Fostering healthy communities means ensuring access to medical services, yet it encompasses much more. Although a person can do little about his or her genetic predisposition to chronic disease, more than fifty percent of a person's risk is related to lifestyle-and that is something that can change for the better.
But how can health care providers support healthy eating when local stores do not sell fresh fruits and vegetables? How can they encourage exercise when local streets are not safe? How can they aid immigrant families faced with depression when there are too few bicultural mental health professionals? How can they help patients find meaning in their lives after devastating illness? Beth Israel Deaconess is addressing these social determinants of health through a variety of outreach programs.