Franciscan Adds Community Health Improvement Coordinator

Franciscan Adds Community Health Improvement Coordinator

An activist with a history of connecting members of the community to health care services will continue that work as the community health improvement coordinator for Franciscan Health Michigan City.

Nina WilliamsNila Williams arrives at Franciscan Health from her previous position as community partner coordinator for Paladin – Head Start of LaPorte County. In that job, she coordinated the donation of digital thermometers from Franciscan Health Michigan City, getting them in the hands of vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her new position, Williams will work with Franciscan Health Michigan City officials to look at the community’s needs and find solutions to help populations that are most vulnerable. Williams will work with community partners to develop programs and events to deliver assistance.

“It’s really about building a better relationship with the community, bridging the gap, strengthening those relationships with the community as a whole,” Williams said.

The community health improvement coordinator position was created at Franciscan Health Michigan City as part of the hospital’s commitment to a multi-faceted plan to promote equity and parity in health care. This effort reflects the Franciscan Mission, continuing Christ’s ministry in our Franciscan tradition, includes the values of fidelity to mission, respect for life, compassionate concern, joyful service and Christian stewardship.

“We are really excited to have Nila join our Franciscan family. She is ideally positioned with her depth of experience, existing community relationships and training, to help us quickly make important gains in improving the health of our communities,” said Franciscan Health Michigan City President and CEO Dean Mazzoni.

Williams, who is known as “The Fixer,” has more than 10 years’ experience in health care, and a history of collaboration with other organizations in Michigan City and LaPorte County. She currently serves with the Salvation Army Advisory Board; is treasurer for the Michigan City Commission of Social Status of African American Males; and is a board member with Indiana Black Expo Michigan City Chapter and PFLAG. In addition, her commitments include these committees: Healthy Communities of LaPorte County, Tobacco Coalition, City Wide Back to School Rally, Early Childhood Committee, and Home Team. In the past, she had served on the Michigan City Human Rights Commission and the LaPorte County NAACP board as secretary.

“I’ve worked in the community a long time and have relationships with individuals, agencies and businesses, so this job fit right in,” Williams said.

In 2019, she was named the Michigan City Humanitarian of the Year by the Michigan City Human Rights Commission.  In 2018, the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce acknowledged her as 1 of 100 inspiring Women in the city. She is a 2016 Graduate of Leadership LaPorte County. Indiana Black Expo recognized her as Volunteer of the Year in 2015. She is a 2010 graduate with honors from Bryant & Stratton College, majoring in occupational studies – information technology.

Williams’ annual health fairs for Indiana Black Barber Shop Health Initiative have reached African American males, who are at higher risk of chronic diseases and early death, with health screenings and wellness information. In addition, she was a certified Indiana state and federal navigator in enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.

She has distributed care packages and blankets to the city’s homeless in zero-degree weather through Keys of Hope and other community partners. She also created a group called Girls About Progress, a free-standing program with curriculum and mentoring.

Initially, part of Williams’ focus will be on educating the public on COVID-19, including the dos and don’ts of masks and the importance of being vaccinated. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there, particularly in the minority community,” she said.

Other more long-term health issues in the community, including higher rates of diabetes, lead poisoning and infant mortality, will be targets of Williams’ efforts. “My goal is to look at the needs assessment and focus on those top areas and start working with these community partners and the public as a whole, and let’s get these percentages down,” she said.

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