Your local hospital offers much more than emergency help and medical care. Within its walls and in the community, it offers programs that can improve your quality of life, be a support in difficult times, and help you take care of your friends and family.
Hospitals are keyed in to their communities because, every three years, nonprofit hospitals must conduct a community health needs assessment. These formal surveys ensure hospitals have the information they need to provide benefits to the community. Hospitals use data, surveys, and focus groups to get input from every segment of the communities they serve, including patients, advocates, and those with special knowledge in public health.
Based on the findings, hospitals develop meaningful, measurable responses to the needs.
Although the needs vary from town to town, it’s not uncommon to see community hospitals finding they need to address high rates of diabetes, heart disease, or obesity, a shortage of mental health services, or difficulties in accessing care.
Hospitals work with other providers and community leaders to develop programs and services such as special clinics, mobile health services, community outreach programs, hospital education programs, and chronic disease management support in underserved regions.
Sometimes the programs are hospital-based, and other times outreach events are coordinated at community centers, fire halls, grocery stores, and other hospital partners.
Hospitals are committing resources in their communities to providing everyone—not just their patients—the best tools available to live a healthy life. That’s why it’s vital for elected officials to maintain funding in the state budget to ensure hospitals can continue to provide these critical community programs. Let your legislators know you want to keep the community in your community hospital. One way to go about doing this is by enabling your constituent badge on Facebook, so you can more effectively communicate with your elected officials.
You can find community health needs assessments on hospital websites. While you’re there, you also can read about special programs and events that can help you and your neighbors live happier, healthier lives.