Indian River County Hospital District Takes a Comprehensive Approach to Community Health

Community Needs Assessment

AT THE JULY 16, 2015 REGULAR MONTHLY BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING OF THE INDIAN RIVER COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT (IRCHD), Trustee Mary Beth Cunningham spoke briefly about how the IRCHD is embarking on a comprehensive and collaborative “Community Health Assessment” (CHA), to include “Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP).”

Best said, according to the National Association of County & City Health Officials, “A Community Health Assessment is a process that uses quantitive and qualitative methods to systematically collect and analyze data to understand health within a specific community.

An ideal Assessment includes information on risk factors, quality of life, mortality, morbidity, community assets, forces of change, social determinants of health and health inequality, and how well the public health system provides essential services.

Community Health Improvement Planning  is a long-term systematic effort to address public health problems on the basis of the results of Community Health Assessments and activities and the health improvement process.”

The reason the word collaborative is so important, is that the IRCHD is not embarking on this initiative on their own. They are collaborating with the Indian River Medical Center (IRMC), the Florida Department of Health – Indian River, Treasure Coast Community Health (TCCH), the Visiting Nurses Association and the Whole Family Health Center (WFHC).

The issue is that if a healthcare provider, such as the IRMC, the Health Department and TCCH receives Federal funds (Medicare and Medicaid) they must conduct a CHA, as per Internal Revenue Service requirements.  These assessments basically concern the health provider’s own sphere of influence, not the community at large.

By collaborating with these providers, pulling them together, and involving the “best minds” in the community, the IRCHD will develop a comprehensive CHA and CHIP that takes into account all these players, from which they can each extract data for their own CHA and CHIP submissions. The data will also help the IRCHD better determine how to best use Indian River County (IRC) tax dollars, rather than, perhaps, focusing on certain populations.

The initiative will not only involve representatives from the healthcare providers indicated above, but also representatives from the community, such a the Sheriff’s Department, Indian River County Emergency Services, legal and financial professionals, IRC and Vero Beach elected officials, Faith-based organizations and community residents, among others.

Additionally, the initiative will gather data from a variety of sources in the following areas: demographics, socioeconomics, health status, health behaviors, and healthcare resources and access.  This data is available from IMRC’s internal systems, the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida’s Department of Education, among other agencies and departments.

Ultimately the the initiative will result in a master data base of statistics and healthcare outcomes that healthcare providers can draw upon improve their operations and those they serve, such as reducing acute care and Emergency Room visits.

It is believed the IRCHD is the most appropriate organization place to manage the data base.

The IRCHD is not undertaking this initiative on their own; but has engaged a private non-profit corporation created under Chapter 408.003, Florida Statutes; its mission being to provide coordinated health planning designed to enhance the provision of assessable, affordable and high quality care services to all persons residing in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties.

The project schedule is as follows:

Planning:                                                              July, 2015 – July 15, 2015

Facilitation – Advisory Council Meetings:         August 3, 2015 – December 15, 2015

Phase One: Defining the Community:               July 1, 2015 – August 31, 2015

   – Identification of Priorities:                                October 1, 2015

Phase Two: Defining the Community:               September 1, 2015 – March 31, 2015

   – Preliminary CHNA:                                          January 15, 2016

   – LPHSA:                                                           January 4, 2016 – March 31, 2016

Phase Three: Priorities and Strategies:            March 1, 2016 – June 30, 2016

   – Re-Convene Advisory Council:                       March 1, 2016 – June 30, 2016

   – Finalized CHNA and CHIP:                             July 30, 2016

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