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Beyond the Walls Achievement Award

Dignity Health Mercy and Memorial Hospitals’ Department of Special Needs and Community Outreach receives the 2015 Achievement Citation from the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA). Each year, CHA offers awards that recognize remarkable contributions to Catholic health care.
The award was presented on Monday, June 8, 2015 during the annual Catholic Health Assembly in Washington D.C.. Beyond the Walls, the joint community benefit offerings of Mercy Hospital Downtown, Mercy Hospital Southwest and Memorial Hospital, was selected for the 2015 Achievement Citation Award for innovative programming that changes lives. This is CHA's annual award for an original, bold, innovative program that delivers measurable results for communities served.

The Department of Special Needs offers 45 programs and services to Kern County residents, making Beyond the Walls ambitious in both its programmatic and its geographic reach. Debbie Hull, regional director of the Department of Special Needs, says Beyond the Walls "fundamentally alters the health care dynamics for high-risk, underserved populations" through health education including comprehensive classes in disease self-management.

Its anti-poverty programs advance population health by positively impacting social determinants of health including educational attainment, food security, economic opportunities and the fabric of neighborhoods.

Hull, who started the Department of Special Needs and has built its programming for 24 years, says Beyond the Walls is a very important piece of the puzzle in the region's health care. The program's portfolio includes homemaker services for frail elderly residents, and subsidies for those who can't afford the service; community wellness programs; insurance enrollment initiatives, homework clubs for disadvantaged kids; and even job training for parolees and other hard-to-employ individuals.

To learn more about CHA’s 2015 Achievement Citation Award please visit