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Hospitals and health departments across WNC have partnered to develop WNC Healthy Impact, an innovative regional initiative designed to improve community health across a 16-county area. This partnership was initiated in November 2011, and is one of only a few in North Carolina and the country taking a regional approach. The partnership is currently gathering data to understand community health status by county. This information will help determine high priority health issues through the community health assessment process.
Though hospitals and health departments in WNC have partnered for years on improving health, they are exploring new ways to improve efficiency, consistency, and collaboration while meeting agency assessment and planning requirements. There is now an additional Federal requirement of non-profit hospitals that they must demonstrate the allocation of community benefit dollars according to high priority community health needs. Hospital and health department leaders see this as an opportunity to work together even more closely than they have done in the past.
“Identifying the community’s perception of their health and issues impacting health is valuable for each hospital and health department in their planning activities. We want to avoid preventable medical conditions and focus on healthy living for our community, “according to Craig James, CEO, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital.
In addition to pulling together existing health related data, WNC Healthy Impact is contracting to conduct a community health survey, by phone to a random sample, in all 16 counties. This survey will start toward the end of May and continue through July. Updated health assessment findings will be available for communities by the end of the year. Hospitals and health departments invite and encourage other community members and partners to be involved in this important effort.
“We encourage anyone receiving a call from a surveyor to participate,” says Gibbie Harris, Director of the Buncombe County Department of Health. “This telephone survey is an important component of our regional and local assessment process and we need to hear about the health concerns and priorities from our communities. This process, including the survey, will inform the work to improve the health of our communities in the months and years ahead.”
Hospitals and health departments will work together with communities to create plans to address and invest in the priorities identified through this process. For more information on the community health assessment and planning process in your county, please contact your local health department.
About WNC Healthy Impact
WNC Healthy Impact is a partnership between hospitals and health departments in Western North Carolina to improve community health. We are currently working together to identify and improve priority health issues.
This project is coordinated by WNC Health Network and the Western NC Partnership for Public Health.
WNC Health Network
Western NC Partnership for Public Health