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Sherry Hay, MPA directs a number of community health initiatives across the department– from helping the uninsured find options, to providing workshops on chronic disease self-management and coordinating Wellness at Work discussions and initiatives. Read a little bit about what she does and why!

Q: How did you get into community health?

I have always had an interest in health but as I reflect back, I believe both my father and my educational experiences shaped my career choice. My father was a teacher and basketball coach early in his career then transitioned to working with the NC Department of Public instruction in the division of health education and sports. Everyone in our family was active in sports and you could always find us reading the latest news on how to live healthy lives. I completed my undergraduate degree in social work and my Master’s degree in Public Administration. Through associated internships I worked in a nursing home as well as a NC town manager’s office evaluating all types of issues affecting health. That led me to working with the NC Division of Medical Assistance, Facility Services, Office of Rural Health, State Health Plan, and WellPath Community Health Plans. This blend of education and experience lead me to this role at UNC Family Medicine.

Q: How is community health important to Family Medicine?

Community Health is integral to the vision and mission of UNC Family Medicine.

Community Health is integral to the vision and mission of UNC Family Medicine. Faculty and staff at FM were involved last year in an estimated thirty-one different activities that could be defined as community Health. While community Health can be defined in many ways, at the heart of community health is people living their healthiest possible life. More specifically, community health encompasses prevention, health maintenance, and treatment of medical conditions, which is impacted by a number of factors referred to as social determinants of health.

Q: What has been your most rewarding project?

It is a difficult question to answer as there are aspects of each project that are rewarding. If I had to choose, I would say it has been my work with helping people gain access to medical care and health insurance. Carolina Health Net is the name of our project that is a partnership with Piedmont Health Services and UNCHCS to provide a system of care of the uninsured in five counties that surround UNCHCS. Individuals lack health insurance and we help them to get appointments at the medical home, specialty care, care management, pharmacy, and a host of other services. Among the other services are help with applying for Medicaid or the Health Insurance Marketplace. Once the Affordable Care Act was passed into law in 2010, we began hosting regional coalitions and events to help people get the information and assistance they need.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

Collaboration and innovation are keys to the success of this work.

Collaboration and innovation are keys of the success of this work. Recognized as a leader in these areas within both NC and nationally, UNC FM has culture that promotes both collaboration and innovation in work. It is challenging work yet the reward of being a catalyst for people live their healthiest possible lives is exciting.