Local health care providers cooperate on needs assessment

Local health care providers cooperate on needs assessment

Moody Chisholm, President and CEO, St. Vincent’s HealthCare shares information about the Community Health Needs Assessment Report as Dawn Emerick, President and CEO, Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida, looks on

Access to health care single most important issue

If you are limited in your access to health care then you may be happy to know that your issue is on the radar of the area’s top health care providers.
A year-long heath care needs assessment conducted by a uniquely cooperative partnership of local hospitals and health departments identified lack of access to health care – whether it be because people are underinsured, uninsured or simply lack transportation – as being Northeast Florida’s “single most important issue.”
The Jacksonville Metropolitan Community Benefit Partnership under the direction of the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida conducted the 2012 Health Needs Assessment, which is required under the Affordable Care Act.

The partnership includes St. Vincent’s HealthCare, Baptist Health, Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Brooks Rehabilitation, Shands Jacksonville Medical Center and Mayo Clinic, in addition to Duval, Clay, Nassau and Putnam county health departments.

While the federal government mandates that non-profit hospitals conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years, it does not require local competing hospitals to form partnerships to do so. But that is exactly what the area’s health providers did in an unprecedented display of efficiency, collegiality and a shared desire to address the area’s health challenges.

“The Partnership is a great example of what can be accomplished when the health care sector commits to leveraging their assets, identifying priorities together, and developing collective impact strategies to improve health outcomes. Conducting this assessment using a collaborative model also saved the hospitals over $500,000 in total expenses because of the economies of scale,” said Dawn Emerick, CEO of the Health Planning Council.

The result of this collaboration is a wide ranging 190-page report that addresses two broad categories: socioeconomic indicators, which include, in part, economics, poverty, education, homelessness and access to food; and health-related indicators, which include topics such as nutrition, dental care, chronic disease, health economics and the aforementioned health care access.

Left to right: Moody Chisholm, President and CEO, St. Vincent’s HealthCare; Michelle Leak, Administrator, Community Relations, Mayo Clinic Florida, and Hugh Greene, President and CEO, Baptist Health. Photos provided by Health Planning Council of NE Florida

The “single most important issue” was on full display in the form of countless homeless people during the press conference in Hemming Plaza Feb. 12 for the unveiling of the assessment results and did not escape the notice of St. Vincent’s CEO Moody Chisholm.

“When I walked in this morning I thought, ‘Isn’t this ironic that we’re doing this here [Hemming Plaza], where there are all of these people that I’m sure don’t have normal access to health care.’ I think that speaks to the need in this community. That’s one of the reasons we put our local health ministry van right out here on the street on a local basis so that people that are disenfranchised and don’t have homes to go to know where they can get primary care on a regular basis to help prevent the illnesses that can lead to more expensive hospitalizations.”
Beyond access to care, the assessment findings also document the need for improvement in social determinants of health, health status and built environment elements across the five counties. The five-county area is worse than state and national statistics in many areas.

“Disparities in access and preventive care, as well as food access, demonstrate the need for concerted action in order to achieve health equity and overall health
improvement for the entire population,” Emerick said. “The same focus areas are present everywhere you go. That should tell you there’s a systemic issue. The data shows very large differences between adjoining counties, major disparities in geographic areas and socioeconomic areas – why is that? That’s something we need to address moving forward.”
In the end, each hospital identified and agreed upon two to five strategic health needs as their highest priority and worthy of inclusion in their respective Strategic Implementation Plans. Each hospital then engaged and/or developed employee/staff/community “implementation teams” to vet and accept the selected priorities.

For example, St. Vincent’s and/or Baptist will target infant mortality, heart disease, diabetes, childhood and adult immunizations, KidCare, mammogram, Type II diabetes screening, access to food, childhood obesity, stroke, nutrition, infant mortality, behavioral health, smoking cessation, and physical activity. Each groups’ success at meeting their respective goals will affect its compensation from government programs.

“What we’re doing is taking it a more metric-driven kind of way,” said Hugh Greene, CEO of Baptist Health. “In the past we’ve been very program-driven, but I think what this takes us to is a much more measurable outcome so we can assess at the end of the year — what did we do individually? Did we do what we said we were going to do? And then what was the collective result of what we said we were going to do collaboratively?”

The community needs assessment report is accessible by way of Northeast Florida Counts at www.nefloridacounts.org and the Community Health Needs Assessment web-based platform located on each hospital’s website:

St. Vincent’s: http://www.jaxhealth.com/about-us/community-health-needs-assessment/?
Baptist Health: http://www.baptistjax.com/about-us/social-responsibility/assessing-community-health-needs
Wolfson Children’s: http://wolfsonchildrens.org/about-us/cha/Pages/default.aspx

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

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