How can Central Pennsylvanians help improve their neighbors’ health and wellbeing?
One way, according to the Centre County Partnership for Community Health (CCPCH) and Mount Nittany Medical Center is by delivering 1,000 completed community needs assessment surveys to the first ever Centre Region Partners for Health Summit on Feb. 25.
The survey is part of Mount Nittany Medical Center’s Community Health Needs Assessment and the results will be used to set the agenda for the summit which is intended to provide a forum for community health experts, leaders, advocates, and elected officials to identify, prioritize, and begin taking action on “good ways forward” to respond to identified needs.
“We would like to do an outstanding job of bringing in data about the health needs and gaps in our area and hand that insight back to community resources and leaders in a way that allows us to develop and enhance collaborations to respond to these needs,“ said Nathan Elliott, director of system decision support at Mount Nittany Health. “It’s vitally important that we do not miss any pockets of need. In order to do that, we really need widespread and ongoing community participation to make sure this assessment as thorough and meaningful as possible.”
PinnacleHealth, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and Holy Spirit System recently completed a joint Community Health Needs Assessment. They reported a combined total of 1,400 completed surveys as part of the needs assessment research. “So far, we have about 600 completed surveys from community members, health care leaders, and Mount Nittany Health employees,” said Elliott. “We really hope to have at least 1,000 fully completed surveys before the February 25 health needs summit.” Hospitals are mandated by the Internal Revenue Service to begin conducting and reporting findings of comprehensive community health needs assessments at least once every three years.
The best way for the community to participate in this effort is to fill out the health needs survey. The survey is anonymous and simply asks respondents about areas of need and barriers to overall health and wellbeing in our region. The survey can be accessed online at mountnittany.org/HealthNeeds.
Elliott adds that “every single completed survey counts. We recognize that people are often numb to survey requests these days. This is an opportunity for people’s voices to be heard in a live forum of 100 or more local leaders who are genuinely listening and looking for ways to act on what the community tells them. Every opinion will be heard.” Paper surveys are also available at local government offices and through local community health organizations, or by contacting Nathan Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814.231.7124.
The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and focuses on the respondent’s opinions and perceptions about significant health problems facing people in our community. Examples might include problems related to alcohol and substance abuse, mental health, obesity, or environmental issues. All surveys are confidential.
“The information we gather from the health summit and stakeholder interviews regarding health, census, and demographic data will be compiled and incorporated into the CHNA and will be made available to the public,” according to Rachel Fetzer, chair of CCPCH. “Supporting this effort by maximizing responses to this survey will prove invaluable for non-profits and social service organizations seeking funding for their programs and services,” she said.
Final documentation of the results of Mount Nittany Medical Center’s needs assessment will be available for review and download in June of 2013 at mountnittany.org. Separate documents featuring the proceedings of the Feb. 25 health needs summit will be made available at CCPCH’s website, partnersforhealth.org.