In this spotlight series, meet members doing great work to improve the health and well-being of communities across the country. They'll offer insight into their efforts to partner with health care, address the social determinants of health, and more.

Erin Keltner, MSW LICSW
Vice President of Clinical Services
KVC West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia

Erin is also the producer of the podcast More than Health Care: A Community Health Conversation, which is is presented by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Ascentria Care Alliance, Beech Acres Parenting Center, and KVC Health Systems. Learn more and find it on your favorite podcast platform.

Tell us about your community and the populations you serve?

I work primarily in the western half of West Virginia (27 of our state’s 55 counties). We serve children and families through in-home behavioral health services, preventative services, foster care, and adoption. Our area is rural but full of great people who care about their families and the communities where they live. Many of our staff work in the communities where they live and I believe this makes a difference in the care our families receive. We provide what we would want for our own families in a manner that’s compassionate, kind, and respectful.

How long have you been working to improve the health and well-being in communities through your health impact work? How has your work evolved over time?

I have been doing this work for 15 years now, but KVC West Virginia has been serving our communities since 2001 and our corporate office in Kansas is celebrating its 50th year of working with children and families this year. Over time, we have adapted to the changing landscape. Programs and funding opportunities come and go, but if you can provide consistent and effective services to families and meet them where they are, then that is what sticks with them. We can keep that constant, regardless of what program we are utilizing.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of our staff and what they do every day to make a difference in the lives of others. And our leadership team strives to find ways that we can support our staff in the work that they do. We do this through regular training, supervision, and engagement work. We have been fortunate that COVID-19 hasn’t slowed us down, because we have consistently used telehealth as a means for connecting with families and staff. But our staff made that happen. We can’t do it without them and their unique talents.

What is your number one challenge in efforts to partner with health care?

I think it’s probably finding organizations who understand our work and therefore understand our worth. We know what we are worth to the community, and we know the importance of healthcare to the community. I think if organizations were more open to understanding how we can all win (including families) if we partner together, then that would make the real difference. It’s sometimes difficult to get one’s foot in the door to demonstrate how we could affect real positive change.

How has COVID-19 affected your work to improve health and well-being?

We’ve been lucky that we have had telehealth as part of our repertoire for a number of years. This made it easier for our staff and our families because they are used to using it. It’s obviously been challenging to engage all clients because it’s a departure from what they are used to. But we are checking in with families weekly and are fortunate to say that most people are in pretty good shape. We have to remind our families about self-care and then practice it as caretakers as well. We continue to do lots of training around health and well-being in an attempt to keep its importance in the forefront.

How do you measure the impact your organization makes on the health and well being of your community?

We measure through program metrics and surveys, but really, we measure our impact one interaction at a time. We love data, but we really strive to provide the best care, and you do that by building relationships one interaction at a time and becoming part of the community. And then over time, others begin to see the good work that we do and we build further partnerships.

Join the Health Alliance Peer Exchange Group

To easily connect, exchange information, and collaborate with peers who are working to improve health and well-being, join the Health and Human Services Intersection Alliance Peer Exchange (APEX) group.

To join, update your APEX groups in your profile, and start connecting in the online learning community.

Download New Report on Member Partnerships with Health Care

The Alliance recently released a new report that sheds light on the scope, benefits, and challenges of partnerships between health care entities and organizations in the Alliance network. This report is based on a comprehensive request for information (RFI) conducted by the Alliance in 2019 to gain insight on how to support collaboration between health care and community-based human services organizations. Download the executive summary or full report.