Saline Memorial launches study to evaluate community needs

Saline Memorial Hospital, in collaboration from other local health professionals and stakeholders, is working on a "road map to health" for the people of Saline County, identifying public health needs, goals, objectives and priorities.
The hospital reportedly has launched a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment that is intended to provide the foundation for improving and promoting the health of each community member.
According to Rebecca Jones, the hospital's director of marketing and community relations, this is a systematic collection, assembly, analysis and dissemination of information about the health of the community. Its role reportedly is to identify factors that affect the health of a population and determine the availability of resources with the community to adequately address those factors.
These assessments are required for not-for-profit hospitals as part of the health-care reform legislation, Jones noted. The assessment is expected to be finalized by the end of July.
A report of the results will be presented to the community, she said.
“Guided by the results of this important community survey, we can have a more complete understanding of the health needs of this community which will help us focus our resources on how to improve health,” said Bob Trautman, chief executive officer at Saline Memorial.
The survey will use both existing and new data to assess local health needs and recommend possible improvement methods. Some of the data already has been collected through previous local, state and federal public health organizations. Saline Memorial is using outside firms, Stratasan and Catalyst Healthcare Research, to collect, quantify, and interpret the data.
After that, a community survey will be conducted to seek input from numerous local residents throughout this process. Jones said local residents will be asked what they think about various aspects of their local healthcare delivery system and what changes they would like to see. That insight, along with the data, will be used to set priorities for local public health.
“The survey will be looking at what the concerns are as seen through the eyes of the residents of Saline County,” Trautman said.
The information and data is being gathered by Stratasan and Catalyst Healthcare Research to ensure confidentiality and anonymity of the participants. The results will be shared with Saline Memorial Hospital’s Board of Directors and Management Team to help them develop and refine the hospital’s programs and services to ensure they target the community's healthcare needs.
Once the survey is complete, a community health summit will be scheduled later in June or early July.
“Our community assessment is not meant to produce a document that gets shoved onto a shelf to gather dust,” Trautman said. “It is meant to create the foundation of an action plan to help us truly improve the lives of the people in our community.”
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