Results from the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment have arrived at Good Samaritan Hospital, and it seems there is significant work to be done to create a healthier Vincennes.
The assessment, which is done every three years, is intended to prove that hospitals are trying to meet the needs of the communities they serve by evaluating the health needs and prioritizing them.
A health needs assessment is required of all nonprofit hospitals in the nation as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
At Good Samaritan, the most recent assessment was conducted by Blue and Company, a regional advisory firm with locations in Evansville and Bloomington.
Debra Hardwick, the Community Health Coordinator at Good Samaritan, said Blue and Company conducted surveys in the community and personal interviews of community leaders and health experts.
“And they utilized secondary sources of data from things like county health rankings, the Indiana Health Department and Deloitte rankings to determine the primary needs of the community,” she said.
The company identified five broad, primary areas that need to be addressed in the community: awareness, access to care, economical healthcare, behavioral health and addictions, and transportation.
Of those findings, the primary concerns are in regards to substance abuse prevention and education, as well as tackling obesity. Having access to care followed close behind as a significant issue for residents, particularly when needing a medical specialist.
Hardwick said much hard work has been done by Good Samaritan since the last assessment in 2016, which indicated the hospital needed to do more in areas of obesity, diabetes prevention, mental health, tobacco use and access to more primary care physicians.
After the 2016 findings, Good Samaritan developed the Welch Diabetes Center, partnered with Indiana University’s School of Medicine to have residents in psychiatry at the hospital, began a food voucher program for low-income residents to get free fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, and began the Fit Kids program to encourage youth to stay active and make smart food choices.
Hardwick says, no matter their efforts, “there are no quick fixes to any of the identified needs.”
“So we do what we can to ask, ‘How can we deal with it?’” she said. “But it takes awhile and is an ongoing process that takes a lot of planning.”
Until a specific plan of action to address the needs is approved by the hospital board in April 2020, Hardwick indicated there is still much work and outreach being done by hospital staff.
“There’s lots of things we’re doing now — things like teen substance abuse prevention, and reaching out to schools about teen vaping, which is an epidemic,” she said. “We continually try to pay attention to the community and whatever it needs.”
The results of the assessment are available, in full, to the public. To read the full results of the 2019 Health Needs Assessment, visit the hospital’s website: www.goodsam.org/About-Us/Community-Health-Needs-Assessment.aspx.