Video: On San Antonio's West Side, neighbors talk about community health

With help from you, NOWCastSA helped expand an important neighbor-to-neighbor conversation about people's health.

More than 50 people from nearby neighborhoods came to the Benavides Learning & Leadership Development Center on San Antonio's West Side on May 5 for a conversation about community health issues.

Event organizers shared maps of health data and other health information with the neighbors, hoping to spark conversations that will lead to better health for the people of San Antonio. 

NOWCastSA streamed live video
from the meeting. We've archived video segments of the evening conversation here:

The event was a collaborative effort by NOWCastSA and its sister entities, NOWData, which gathers and maintains vital databases at its website here, and NOWTech, which runs the city technology centers, including the Benavides Center. All three groups fall under the umbrella of CI:Now (formerly AACIS), a partnership of 25 entities that provides community information resources.

Outside the Benavides Center, anyone on a computer with Internet access could watch the video and participate in the interactive chat. We will cut the video into smaller segments and archive it here so you can come back and watch it later.

Participants in the room and online got a chance to study and comment on maps that display health data at the Zip Code level. The maps show, for instance, where there are greater instances of teen pregnancy, or babies born with low birth weight, or where children have been found with high levels of lead in their blood.

Much of the data was collected by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, and was produced for the meeting by the University of Texas School of Public Health, San Antonio. The data is showcased at NOWData's website here.

The Benevides meeting is part of the 2010 Bexar County Community Health Assessment, a process to profile the health of the community, look at behaviors that affect health and examine what leads to that behavior.

According to Metro Health Director Dr. Fernando Guerra,"The Health Assessment will provide fresh insights into the overall health of our community and the challenges we face with chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and others. Combining this information with the yearly data Metro Health gathers will help us better address risk factors related to behaviors, the environment, occupations and lifestyles."

This Health Assessment is different than others because the community is playing a larger role through neighborhood meetings like this one this evening, according to Steve Blanchard, Health Collaborative board member and chair of the 2010 Community Health Assessment. Blanchard, who has a doctorate in sociology and population studies, is a professor of sociology at Our Lady of the Lake University. He also is a
 member of CI-Now and is on the NOWCastSA board of directors.

The Benavides meeting, according to Blanchard, is part of a series of focus groups being conducted by Health Resources in Action of Boston, which is 
interviewing community residents, healthcare providers and staff from health and social service agencies.

 "This is the first time the community has been integrated into the research process in this way," Blanchard said.

Members of The Health Collaborative include: Baptist Health System, the Bexar County Department of Community Resources, Steve Blanchard, Community
First Health Plans, Methodist Healthcare, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, University Health
System, WellMed Management, Inc. and the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Funders of the 2010 Bexar County Community Health Assessment are: the Baptist Health Foundation, the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, the United Way and Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas.

Note: This article has been updated several times.

Disclosure: NOWCastSA also is funded by the San Antonio Area Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The SAAF also provides funding for CI-Now.

Pilar Oates, executive cirector of Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, is chair of CI-Now, which also funds NOWCastSA. She also is a member of the NOWCastSA board of directors.Through its funding of CI-Now, the United Way also provides support to NOWCastSA.