If you ever find yourself searching for some perspective on what your community needs to be healthy and whole, it is possible you will find that much of that information is just a click away. In communities served by AdventHealth, a rigorous assessment is undertaken every three years to identify the needs and formulate a plan for bringing wholeness to those communities.
Contained within the much-anticipated 2023-2025 Community Health Plans (CHP), released to the public on May 15, is a treasure trove of information from across the health system. Each CHP serves as an action plan for addressing the priorities outlined in AdventHealth’s 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which was released in December and included record input from 22,000-plus community members, 366 stakeholders, and 69 focus groups from AdventHealth hospital-campus communities in nine U.S. states.
Understanding the Process
Developed by the CHNA and Hospital Health Needs Assessment (HHNA) committees, using the input gathered from stakeholders across sectors including public health, faith-based, and business, as well as from individuals directly impacted, the CHPs outline targeted interventions and measurable outcomes for addressing some of the most pressing health concerns of the community, and especially the needs of the most vulnerable.
What becomes future is what we do now.
Evaluated annually, the CHPs are developed in alignment with the work of AdventHealth facilities’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Councils and Mission & Ministry teams across the system, as well as with the data-driven objectives for improving health and well-being outlined in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030.
While mental and/or behavioral health ranked among top priorities in the majority of plans, also notable on this assessment cycle is the factoring in of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), such as access to services and quality health care, transportation, safe and affordable housing, food security, and workforce development — important because studies have shown that 80 percent of what drives health care outcomes is known to occur outside hospitals’ walls.
As executive director of community advocacy Andrew Mwavua points out, that statistic raises a question the CHPs wrangle with: “How can people who need help be better able to access health services before the issues become chronic?” And firmly rooted in the belief that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Mwavua notes that while those SDOH “might not be explicitly clinical, they impact clinical outcomes.”
Heightened Focus on Needs
The CHPs serve as a sort of “State of Our Communities,” Mwavua said. Those plans and the CHNAs upon which they are based help advance the strategic goal of heightened awareness around community health needs and what AdventHealth is doing to address those needs. That work is done in collaboration with key partners, including community-based organizations, mental health centers, schools, churches and community centers, and alcohol and substance use referral and treatment programs.
Other significant needs identified in the CHNA process but not chosen as top priorities are also noted in the CHPs. In those instances, the Hospital Health Needs Assessment Committee did not perceive the ability to impact the issue with existing hospital resources or believes that other organizations are better positioned in the community to address this need directly and will support those efforts when able.
Perhaps one clear message to extract from the CHPs is this: It’s all about connecting the dots, said Debi McNabb, director of community benefit for AdventHealth Central Florida Division — North Region. “You don’t just wake up one morning with cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”
One of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission’s priorities, for example, is Nutrition and Healthy Eating. More than 41 percent of community survey respondents reported eating fruits and vegetables less than two days a week. Nutrition is known to be a critical influencer of health. Healthy eating improves maternal health and health at every stage of life. It builds stronger immune systems, lowers the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and increases longevity.
Nutrition and Healthy Eating is also a priority for AdventHealth Durand in Wisconsin and for AdventHealth Central Texas and AdventHealth Rollins Brook, also in Texas.
Ultimately, Mwavua said, the goal is to build capacity in and with local communities so that they can more actively participate and, to an even greater extent, co-own the process and the deliverables. “What becomes future is what we do now,” Mwavua said. “Community Health Plans help guide strategic investments toward creating a more conducive ecosystem that increases the probability of longevity of life with quality.”