While a hospital’s main function is to service the community it’s rooted in and beyond, an important factor in the success of that institution is the community’s participation.
Better to understand the roles each community plays in the way a hospital runs, and when successful, what certain hospital programs can do for local residents, we sat down with Gilda Caputo-Hansen, director of community affairs at the Brooklyn Hospital Center (121 DeKalb Avenue).
What exactly does a director of community affairs do?
I am the connection to the community and my job is basically to come up with programs that bring the community into the hospital and bring the hospital out into the community.
What would you say is the most important part about that job?
It’s a symbiotic relationship; we can’t have a hospital if we don’t have people coming into it so it’s better to have this really great relationship between the two. Going into the hospital is a scary thing but when the doors open and the hospital embraces the community, it’s not such a scary thing.
How do you hone in on what services the community needs?
We have a ton of activities that we go to, mostly health fairs in the community, and we represent the hospital and we’ll always bring equipment and perform blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose checks and screenings. As far as programs at the hospital, that’s basically my job, to start rolling them out.
What sorts of programs/activities does the hospital have planned?
We don’t have a name for it yet but there’s going to be a health program for seniors in which we’ll basically invite them to the hospital, one or two afternoons a month, and it’s going to be done in sessions. One will be a two-hour session that we will present to them as a didactic session –a physician talking to them about blood pressure or diabetes or podiatry and then we’ll have someone doing an exercise piece and someone doing a demonstration. It’s good because it’s going to help them feel included and like they have somewhere to go. It’s going to be really fun.
What is your ultimate goal for the future of the hospital?
Basically my goal is to create community-based programs that are impactful and serve the community. Last year I graduated from CUNY with a master’s in public health so I’m taking that training and applying it to this job. We’re just going to reach out. It’s all about education, that’s how you can change people’s behavior and it’ll be all inclusive –all races, genders, ethnicities and ages. We want this [for] everyone.