Monday Medical: We’re listening; speak up — what’s the health of your community?
Take a look at your health needs and get ready to give feedback. The Community Health Needs Assessment has begun, and everyone’s input matters.
“This is your opportunity to have a voice in how your community can affect your overall health and well-being,” said Karen McRight, senior director for marketing and business development at Yampa Valley Medical Center.
This year, YVMC and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association are working together to conduct the assessment.
“This unique collaboration between YVMC and VNA reflects our belief in the importance of working together to better understand healthcare needs in Northwest Colorado,” said Frank May, YVMC CEO.
While hospitals and public health organizations both aim to keep communities healthy, hospitals have strengths in preventing and treating disease, while public health has strengths in meeting the health needs of the community’s most vulnerable. Working together on the assessment, YVMC and VNA aim to promote healthy lifestyle changes.
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“We’re attempting to consolidate our resources, resulting in a report that we can both use to collaboratively consider solutions,” McRight said.
The assessment will include data from stakeholders, as well as feedback from community leaders and members. An online survey, which YVMC and VNA created together, is open to everyone in the community. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. The goal is to have at least 1,000 participants by Nov. 15, when data collection ends.
“(The survey) is about what makes us healthy,” said Lisa Brown, Northwest Colorado VNA CEO. “Where we live, how we work, how we play. What creates health is often what happens outside of a doctor’s office, and the survey is really geared towards that.”
The assessment covers a range of indicators — from access and cancer, to nutrition and substance abuse — and will be used to create a Community Health Improvement Plan.
All data will be public, so any group — from schools to other health organizations — will be able to use the information.
The findings can be very useful. In YVMC’s last Community Needs Assessment, for instance, one finding showed that only 65 percent of women in Routt County had a regular breast exam and mammogram, which is far below the national average of 78 percent. And it gave YVMC information to act on.
“It’s just one of the things we’ve focused on this past year, trying to get that rate up,” McRight said. “Education and preventative screenings are key to catching cancer early.”
The work has paid off. Through the third quarter of this year, YVMC has seen a 29 percent increase in mammograms performed over last year.
Having a healthy community is a focus on both the national and state levels. The impacts are far-reaching, making assessments like this one extremely valuable.
“Having healthy communities affects everyone on many different levels, from early childhood learning to reduction of chronic diseases,” McRight said. “Community health needs assessments are becoming more and more relevant in addressing community health needs and focusing on sustainable solutions for all.”
Which means it’s all the more important for everyone in the community to share their views.
“We really want to hear people’s voices, and we’re open to suggestions for how to connect,” Brown said. “If there’s a group that wants to share their voice, we’re available. We’re listening.”
Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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