Common Ground Health: The Region’s Health Roundtable


St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center and Action for a Better Community. Both, local community-oriented agencies bearing instrumental influence pertaining to the wellness of residents, have appointed new directors to lead their efforts in 2018.

Common Ground Health appointment of Wade Norwood, a community activist and New York State Regent, brings that total to three in a year, where staple leaders of community-focused agencies are seeking to pass the baton, in-concert.

Norwood have served in a variety of leadership roles within Common Ground Health and most recently, as the chief strategy officer. An assignment, that has allowed him to work closely with his predecessor, learning all aspects of management and operations of the agency.

He will succeed Trilby de Jung as CEO, after 4 years of service.

His goal: To continue working to fulfill the agency’s mission “to bring focus to community health issues via data analysis, community engagement and solution implementation, through community collaboration and partnership.”

To the position: Norwood will add a mixture of skills garnered from his days in politics advocating the concerns of residents living in the city of Rochester.

As a student at the University of Rochester, Norwood’s initial plan was to study chemical engineering. Midway through, he ended-up being connected with local campaigns through the Young Democrats, an organization of young people advocating for democratic causes, is where he caught the ‘political bug’ and decided, he wanted to make a career in politics.

However, Norwood didn’t want to be a Political Scientist.

“I wanted to roll-up my sleeves,” Norwood said. “And be involved in the way politics plays itself out in the local community. So, after graduation, I went to work for the state assembly, under the mentorship of New York State Assembly Member David Gantt,” he recalls. “I worked there for twenty years. And sixteen of those years, I served on Rochester’s City Council. After my unsuccessful run for the mayoral seat, I wanted to find a way of service that could focus on issues of equity and be impactful and found Common Ground Health to be a powerful and clear route for impacting public policy but doing so through data. And with the facts, without getting bogged down in personalities and distractions,” Norwood advocates.

How do we use the facts to stay focus on, how do we make life better for people? And how do we heal, where there’s sickness?

“And that have been, the true joy in doing this job,” Norwood acknowledges.

Common Ground Health (formerly the Finger Lakes Health System Agency), a not-for-profit community planning agency, promotes public health in the Finger Lakes Region through research, advocacy, and community engagement.

For example, with regard to hypertension. Norwood highlights, the Agency recognizes, they’re real differences in the prevalence of the disease.

“How many people wind-up with high blood pressure?” he suggests. “How many people are able to manage their high blood pressure? And over a span of time, how many people with high blood pressure experience or succumb to a stroke or heart attack or kidney disease, after being diagnosed as a risk?” he proposes.

“Then, the question becomes--how can we use the data and bring it to the community and say, we can understand what’s going on, we need your help, to help us understand, why it’s going on?” he said.

Bringing that data to the community helps Common Ground Health begin to understand part of this is the conditions of the neighborhood, when they uncovered, people talking about safety weren’t necessarily talking about crime-safety.

“They were talking about safety in terms regarding the speed of traffic on their residential streets, the condition of sidewalks and play surfaces in their neighborhoods,” Norwood explains.

“So, it led us too having an understanding that we needed to carry this type of information to the city government. And help, the city government understand, there’s a health impact in what they do in regard to parks, recreation and youth services. And a health impact to what they do with street design.” Norwood points-out.

It helps, the mayor directs a bold approach that’s slowing down traffic and promoting more biking in the city.

“Growing-up, my grandmother always told me, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Norwood.

Common Ground Health Impact

- 422,908 Healthy Summer Meals for Rochester Kids since 2016.

- 11% improvement in High Blood Pressure control in Monroe County.

- $33.5 million for clinical innovation in our nine-county region.

- $11 million saved in annual operating cost fiscal 2015-2016.

- 25 blood pressure kiosks in worksites, barbershops, churches and community centers.

- 3 in the nation for lowest spending on private health insurance.

- 45 neighborhood groups creating safe play spaces.

- 100% of Rochester streets will be designed with bicyclists, pedestrians, transits users and individuals with disabilities in mind.

- Decline in hospital admissions for people receiving care management.

- 20 plus congregational launch health ministries.

- Rochester students have access to free water at schools.

- 30 focus groups with Medicaid patients.

- 89 care managers.

- 2.9 million in capital cost.

- 22 pop=up days in City of Rochester.

- 1,200 physician nurses coached on quality improvement.

- 1,000 plus English and Spanish pill boxes distributed

- 2 schools create colorful sidewalks

To learn more about Common Ground Health and the services they provide visit:
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