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Department of Health News

HHS Partners with MAHEC to Improve Community Health

A new model is being developed to improve Buncombe County’s community health outcomes. This model bridges the gap between clinical behavior change efforts and community-wide efforts at improving population health through a partnership between Buncombe County Health & Human Services and MAHEC.

“We realize that if we are to make improvements in the health outcomes of our community, we have to enhance the connections between clinical efforts and the community work we are all involved in,” said Gibbie Harris, Buncombe County Health and Human Services Health Director.

With this new partnership, Health and Human Services will continue to oversee the implementation of the Community Health Improvement Process (CHIP) around the four community health priorities: 

  1. Healthy Living... physical activity, nutrition and tobacco-free living
  2. Preconception Health
  3. Early Childhood Development
  4. Access to Care – Clinical Community Connections

MAHEC is a regional expert on preventive medicine, healthy lifestyles, and health management of diseases with services across a continuum of clinical care settings.  Frank Castelblanco, DNP, RN and Director of Regional Services at MAHEC says, “Through this effort we are creating a model that improves health outcomes by engaging and educating people where they live and spend time, as well as in primary care settings.  This model combines those efforts with evidence-based programs in the clinical and community settings that can measure improvements and needs.”

Community Health Improvement Specialists will transition to MAHEC where they will create individual and community-wide consumer education messaging that builds off of best practice guidelines. They will also work to integrate these messages with the broader community strategies that impact the health priorities.

Buncombe County HHS will continue to collaborate with Mission Hospital to provide the community health assessment. This new partnership with MAHEC will bring all three organizations together to enhance the culture of health in our community.

“MAHEC has been a leader in healthcare and education for forty years,” said Jeffery E. Heck, MD, President and CEO, MAHEC.  “By collaborating with Buncombe County Health & Human Services we hope to combine our efforts in primary care, women’s health and education together with public health to promote healthy lifestyles, preventive and primary care to continue our efforts toward a national model of a healthy community and a culture of health.” 

About MAHEC:

The Mountain Area Health Education Center, Inc. (MAHEC) provides quality, compassionate healthcare as a foundation for training top physicians, dentists and health professionals. Established in 1974, MAHEC’s mission is to train the next generation of healthcare professionals for western North Carolina. MAHEC is “Your Doctor.  Your Teacher. Your Advocate.” For more information, call 825-257-4400 or visit

About Buncombe County Health and Human Services:

Buncombe County Health and Human Services is a consolidated integrated organization dedicated to improving the health, safety and self-sufficiency of members of our community.  For more information, visit