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HSHS hospitals identify top community health priorities

Obesity, mental health and alcohol abuse are among the biggest concerns in community health, according to an area hospital study.

HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospitals in Breese and Highland, and HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville recently conducted its Community Health Needs Assessment, an assessment that is done once every three years. The CHNA is a process involving the community to identify and analyze community health needs, as well as community assets and resources, to plan and act upon priority health needs. This process results in a report, which is used to develop implementation strategies based on the evidence, assets and resources identified in the CHNA process.

“This process is extremely important to our hospitals,” said Amy Liefer, director of philanthropy and community engagement at all three hospitals. “Through this assessment, we are able to draw a road map of how we want to address these high priority health needs in each of our communities. We are also able to develop strategies which create or expand community partnerships to have a broader reach than just the hospital.”

All three hospitals conducted separate assessments, with all partnering with the Survey Research Office at University of Illinois Springfield. The Survey Research Office provided data for a secondary data analysis of demographics and health statistics in the state and counties of each hospital. In addition, the Survey Research Office conducted focus groups made up of community members and patients at each hospital to obtain primary data for the assessment.

Through this process, the hospitals each identified the same top four health priorities in each of their primary service areas. Those priorities are:
• Obesity
• Mental health
• Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use
• Access to care

“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that the hospitals have identified the exact same priorities in their assessments,” said Liefer. “It really emphasizes the degree to which these needs are impacting our community. The statistics found in the report were surprising to many in our community.”

A major complication from obesity is diabetes. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease and have a greater chance of a heart attack or stroke.

In Madison County, the issue of mental health can be seen through the percentage of the Medicare population diagnosed with depression. This population was higher than the state rate, with 19.7 percent of the Medicare population diagnosed with depression between 2010-2015. The statewide average was 15.1 percent. The graph below shows the changes since 2010.


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