Community Health Needs Assessment
In the summer and fall of 2017, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center helped implement a formal and comprehensive community health assessment process for the identification and prioritization of significant health needs of the community. The assessment focused on resource allocation, informed decision making, and collective action to improve health.
NRMC partnered with Stratasan to collect, quantify, and interpret the data. The year-long-project included a community focus group and interviews with local residents. Additionally, 300 community members participated in a telephone survey in which they were asked about various aspects of their local health issues. A community health summit was held in the summer of 2017, and information gathered during the study was presented and served as a foundation for further collaboration.
The initiative created an opportunity to gain a better understanding of existing infrastructure and ways the broader community can work together to facilitate health improvement in the parish.
There were four broad themes that emerged in the Community Health Needs Assessment process:
- Natchitoches Parish needs to create a “Culture of Health” which permeates throughout the cities, employers, churches, and community organizations to engender total commitment to health improvement.
- There is a direct relationship between health outcomes and affluence (income and education). Those with the lowest income and education generally had the poorest health outcomes.
- While any given measure may show an overall good picture of community health, subgroups such as the census tract northeast of Natchitoches City and the African American community face significant challenges.
- It will take a partnership with a wide range of organizations and citizens pooling resources to meaningfully impact the health of the community. However, the Parish has many assets to improve health.
Health Status Data
The areas of strength were identified as lower teen births, higher adults with some college, and lower population per mental health provider ratio.
When analyzing the health status data, local results were compared to Louisiana, the U.S. (where available), and the top 10% of counties in the U.S. (the 90th percentile). Where Natchitoches Parish’s results were worse than LA and U.S., groups and individuals have an opportunity to take action and improve these community measures. To become the healthiest community in Louisiana and eventually the nation, Natchitoches Parish must close several lifestyle gaps. For additional perspective, Louisiana was ranked the 49th healthiest state out of the 50 states. (Source: America’s Health Rankings)
County Health Rankings suggest the areas to explore for improvement in Natchitoches Parish include:
- High adult smoking
- High obesity rates
- Low food environment index
- High sexually transmitted infections
- Low high school graduation
- High percentage of children in poverty and in single parent households
- High violent crime rate
- High income inequality.
The Rankings are based on a model of population health that emphasizes the many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play. Building on the work of America’s Health Rankings, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute has used this model to rank the health of Wisconsin’s counties every year since 2003.
Delta Regional Community Health Systems Development Program
Natchitoches Regional Medical Center (NRMC) was recently selected for an opportunity to participate in a program that will provide intensive technical assistance in eight rural parishes, including Natchitoches.
On behalf of the Health Resources Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) and Delta Regional Authority (DRA), the National Rural Health Resource Center announced the selection of NRMC for this unique program.
Through the DRCHSD Program, the DRA and FORHP have partnered to provide rural communities with an intensive technical assistance, consisting of various assessments, onsite consultations, workshops and educational trainings. The programs will be provided through a multi-year phased-in approach. The Program is designed to increase the efficiency of the local health care delivery system practices by focusing on care coordination, social services integration, emergency medical services access, and workforce recruitment and retention with the goal to:
- Improve financial position and increase operational efficiencies
- Implement quality improvements that support an evidenced-based culture for improved health outcomes
- Address workforce recruitment and retention needs
- Increase use of telemedicine to fill service gaps and access to care
- Ensure access to and availability of Emergency Medical Services
- Integrate social services to address socio-economic challenges
- Enhance coordination of care and develop a community care coordination plan
- Strengthen the local health care delivery system to position for population health
To learn more about the DRA and FORHP collaboration to support rural communities through the DRCHSD Program, visit the Delta Regional Authority website.