First 5 Lex Partner Spotlight: HealthFirst Bluegrass

We are in the midst of a blog series to show appreciation for our community partners and supporters! Today, we get to TALK with Malia Jackson, the School-Based Program Director for HealthFirst Bluegrass (HFBG). HealthFirst Bluegrass strives to enhance people’s quality of life through transformative health care. They provide medical care to persons of all ages, races, religions and sexual orientations regardless of their ability to pay. During the pandemic, they have continued to offer medical services. To learn more about their pediatric services, click here.

Let’s learn more about HealthFirst Bluegrass in our question and answer session with Malia!

Can you talk about your role with HealthFirst Bluegrass, and what a typical day may look like for you?

I started with HealthFirst as a School Nurse Coordinator at Cardinal Valley Elementary. My current role is School-Based Program Director, which consists of mostly administrative duties, zoom meetings, program building and staff development. There are always lots of exciting things happening. We have nine clinics across Lexington and we’re looking forward to having students return to classes in the building soon.

Can you tell us about HealthFirst Bluegrass’ community outreach? What role do you play in the community?

As a community health center, outreach is the name of the game. We’re here to serve the Lexington community and provide integrated health services to all. The beauty of our school-based program is that we’re right inside the schools and can meet the children and address their needs right there in that trusted space. We’re always doing fun outreach events with Fayette County Public Schools where we promote our primary care, wellness, dental and pharmacy services.

Can you tell us about the Community Supports aspect of your organization?

We have a lot of strong community partners at HealthFirst. Two of our big partners are Fayette County Public Schools and the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. We also work with the Hope Center and Catholic Action Center to help our homeless population. We have a strong partnership with the Kentucky Health Center Network and First 5 Lex, to name a few. We value all of our partnering agencies and are able to reach so many more patients and families through these partnerships.

How do your programs align with First 5’s values? Why was partnering with First 5 Lex a logical fit?

It just seemed like a natural partnership. First 5 Lex’s focus on early literacy and emphasis on the importance of parent/guardian interaction with young children is so important to us. So it just made sense.

How long has HealthFirst Bluegrass been a part of the First 5 community team?

HealthFirst has been a part of the First 5 community team since the beginning. We participated in the planning committees and were a part of that process. It’s been a long partnership.

Why do you think the First 5 message - to read, talk and play with little ones each day- is so important?

The read, talk and play message fosters the importance of early development and parent-guardian interaction. We all know that early literacy starts way before kindergarten, so that important piece just fits right in.

In your opinion, what positive change has First 5 Lex made in the community?

I love seeing the Read to Me Libraries around town and I think providing books for children and giving them that foundation for early literacy makes such a great impact. First 5 Lex also wants kids to have fun as they learn, which develops that love of learning early on in life. My family participated in Countdown to Kindergarten, which is such a fun event that prepares little ones for kindergarten.

How do you hope to continue to partner with First 5 in the future?

We want to continue having our First 5 Lex Read to Me Libraries here at HealthFirst. We have two at our Southland and Bryan Station locations, and hope to expand them into the school-based sites as well. As we’ve grown and become primary medical providers for families in our school communities, we’re serving more patients under the age of 3. That’s why we find it important to expand First 5 Lex’s reach into our school-based program and continue to educate our families, which then empowers them. So that’s what we would like to see.


Just for fun:

What is your favorite children’s book to READ?

My girls and I love to read Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

If you have an afternoon with nothing scheduled, how would you PLAY?

I enjoy baking and being in the kitchen. If it’s nice out, I also like going outside with my family. We like to take hikes together with our dog Luna

If you could TALK with one person, from the past or present, who would it be, and what would you ask them?

I recently started the series The Crown, so I would want to talk to Queen Elizabeth and ask her how accurate this portrayal of her life has been.

We’d like to give a big thank you to Malia and everybody at HealthFirst Bluegrass. Thank you for effecting positive change in our community!

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