Amy Hooten

Amy Hooten

Several local entities have come together as part of a new initiative to improve Longview-area residents’ access to health and wellness services.

Community Healthcore received a grant to create Greater Longview Optimal Wellness, or Glow, which involves Gregg County, the city of Longview, Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center, Longview Regional Medical Center and Special Health Resources of Texas and Greater Longview United Way. Steve Archer, director of behavioral health at Community Healthcore, said the grant required the organization to choose at least five partners.

Longview Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services Section Chief Amy Hooten said the initiative will allow the seven agencies to come together to help people navigate the right resource for their individual need.

Hooten said that residents often use 911 and emergency room services as primary care for issues that may not require emergency services. She speculated that this is because they don’t know where else to turn or that there are resources available that can help them with their specific need.

“I think sometimes people just don’t know how to stay connected to resources ... Some people just need an extra helping hand to get through those steps of where they want to go, and we want to do that for them,” Hooten said.

The grant will fund the GLOW initiative over several years. Archer said $210,000 was awarded for the first year and $400,000 for the next two years.

Hooten said GLOW will look at wellness as a total package. In order for a community to be healthy, she said several factors must be considered in addition to medical health. If a person is missing life components — like living in safe community, access to food, transportation and other basic necessities — then GLOW will work to assist those people, she said.

“We can have a collaborative care approach. If we can work together, maybe we can come up with solutions more quickly, more effectively for people looking for and (who) are in need of those solutions,” Hooten said.

GLOW will not change or redirect the way residents access emergency services like 911 or hospital emergency rooms, Hooten said.

Rather, it will work off of emergency service requests to identify any additional service a patient might need and will guide them to the proper existing resource, she said.

Patients will also be able to request help from GLOW if they know they need assistance but are unsure where to get it. With consent, GLOW will be able to share patient information with the appropriate agency and help address and serve their situation.

“We don’t want to take away from any of the nonprofits that are currently doing amazing work within our community, but (we want to) be there as an advocate to connect people to those resources that are already available,” Hooten said.

Each partnered agency within GLOW has assigned a designated care coordinator. This steering committee will be the contact point for GLOW communication.

“We’re hoping to expand this throughout these seven agencies and find a way to help connect people,” Hooten said.

Hooten hopes to see the initiative move forward and become a sustainable project that can continue to help people.

Archer said 5% of the population utilizes 50% of crisis response services. By bringing these organizations together under GLOW, they will be able to coordinate more effectively to serve that population, Archer said.

He also echoed Hooten’s sentiments and said multiple aspects of health will be addressed as part of the GLOW initiative, including physical, mental and behavioral health. Archer said GLOW will also agencies to consider social determinants of health, which includes things like food access and transportation.

Archer said GLOW will serve to pull key health organizations together in a more formal partnership in order to communicate and coordinate more efficiently to help the needs of the community.

He added that this coalition has taken the agencies beyond just a handshake by having a memorandum of understanding.

At Thursday’s Longview City Council meeting, council members will consider a resolution to transition grant responsibilities from Community Healthcore to the city of Longview.

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