Awards season at the American Hospital Association recently wrapped up, and many incredible organizations and leaders received honors. My favorite is the NOVA Award, which recognizes collaborative programs that improve community health status.

Serving as a staff judge a couple of times over the years helped me to understand that hospitals and health systems function as community conveners. NOVA Award winners excel at identifying and uniting diverse entities in service of a goal, and they recognize that sustaining long-term change is impossible without widespread community support. A typical award-winning hospital may work with social services agencies, health departments, childcare providers, churches, schools, legal organizations, banks, grocery stores and other local businesses, and law enforcement.

Recent award recipients have tackled perennial issues like obesity, asthma, diabetes, dental health and disease screening, but others stretch the traditional definition of health care by taking on youth violence, teen pregnancy, bullying, self-esteem issues and career development. Obviously, time in the exam room isn’t usually the solution. One of this year’s winners developed pictorial instructions to help literacy-challenged parents care for their children with asthma. Another winning program developed a busing system. And yet another winner found that group health visits provided better motivation than one-on-one patient encounters.

I encourage you to read their stories at www.aha.org/nova. Then, take a look to see if your community needs an award-winning intervention, too.