VHA Community Partnership Challenge - National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
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VHA Community Partnership Challenge

Community Partnership Challenge focuses on diversity and adapting in a ‘changing world’

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought about many restrictions to everyday life, but VA and VHA partners have risen to the occasion to keep helping Veterans, families, caregivers, and survivors by taking resources and programs online, or making other modifications to keep people safe.

The virus’ impact was one of the inspirations for the theme of the 2021 National VHA Community Partnership Challenge: “Adaptability in a Changing World.”

“The foundational thought was to bring the diversity and inclusion framework into the Challenge,” said Georgeanna Bady, health systems specialist in VHA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE), which organizes the annual competition that recognizes outstanding partnerships between VHA and local organizations. “We also wanted to show how VA is agile and innovative—that we can change with what the needs of the Veterans and their families are.”

Entries must demonstrate how the partnership addresses one or more of the following categories:

  • Clinical and Self-Care: Provides resources that directly support Veterans’ mental, emotional, and/or physical health and promote health and well-being.
  • Support of Social Determinants of Health: Provides education, employment, food security, housing, transportation, and/or spiritual support opportunities.
  • Newly Transitioning Service Members: Provides health services, employment, and/ or benefits for newly transitioning Veterans (within 0-12 months of leaving active duty).
  • COVID-19 Pandemic/Flu: Provides access to existing health care and/or the ability to provide new services or benefits that Veterans need due to COVID-19 or the flu.
  • Caregivers/Families: Provides resources for Veteran caregivers and family members to support their ability to care for Veterans.

Entries also must describe how the partnership is built to serve Veterans of all races, ethnicities, sexual identities, languages, learning styles, and/ or spiritual preferences in the context of one or more of the categories listed above. The newly transitioning service members category, for instance, was added as an example of age diversity.

“When we think of diversity, we always think ethnicity, but that’s not the only area of diversity. There’s gender diversity, lifestyle diversity,” said Ms. Bady.

In addition to a new theme, this year’s competition, which will kick off in January, has a different name—it’s now the National VHA Community Partnership Challenge. In reviewing records, Ms. Bady discovered that the first challenge, held in 2014, had the word “national” in it.

 “The word ‘national’ includes ‘nation’ and ‘nation’ includes everybody,” said Ms. Bady. “We are reinstating that word because adaptability, diversity, and inclusion encompass the theme.” In addition, submissions come from all over the country, she explained. The contest is open to every VHA medical center, health care center, community-based outpatient center, clinic, and program office. The top three submissions are honored in a ceremony and with an award from the executive in charge and recognition from the VA secretary.

For more information on the Challenge and how to enter, be sure to bookmark VA.gov/healthpartnerships for updates.

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Posted January 14, 2021