April/May 2004

Healthy Community Profile: Mercy Medical Center, Williston, N.D. Healthy Williston, Healthy Youth


After some initial challenges, the community of Williston, N.D., is on track with its healthy community initiative, “Healthy Williston, Healthy Youth.” The initiative is modeled on the “Healthy Nampa, Healthy Youth” program championed by Mercy Medical Center in Nampa, Idaho.

“When we first started a healthy community initiative several years ago, we had a large task force,” said Virginia Davy, director of mission and spiritual care at Mercy Medical Center in Williston. “It turned out to be too large a group to function effectively. We pared down to a seven-member steering committee and began building a cohesive community coalition.”

The committee learned about the Healthy Communities/ Healthy Youth survey developed by the Search Institute of Minneapolis, Minn. The survey identifies which of 40 assets — such as family support, self-esteem and service to others — are present or missing in the lives of a community’s youth. The committee visited Nampa to learn more about that community’s success with the program. Lynn Borud, vice president of community development for Mercy Medical Center in Nampa, also traveled to Williston to provide assistance.

“We’re pursuing ‘Healthy Williston, Healthy Youth’ because our young people reflect our community as a whole,” said Davy. “Understanding where they are in their personal, school and spiritual lives will show us our community’s assets and deficits.”

The coalition has grown to 30 members, with leaders from business, education, civic groups, the medical community and the Chamber of Commerce. Last fall, more than 1,300 students completed the Search Institute survey. Now, the coalition is making plans to release the results, build community assets and grow the coalition.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity to improve the health of our wonderful community,” said Davy. “We truly believe that if we work with our youth, the health of the community will follow.”

For more information, contact Virginia Davy at virginiadavy@catholichealth.net.