May 3, 2018
NORTON, Kan. – Community Health Needs Assessments and implementation strategies are required of tax-exempt hospitals every three years. Not only is completion of the assessment required by law, it also offers the opportunity for hospitals to know the local communities they serve better and find ways to meet the health-related needs of their citizens.
The 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment is now open and available to the public. Any Norton County resident age 18 and older is asked to complete the short, anonymous survey, as the feedback will be valuable and will chart the course for local health care priorities in the future. Surveys can be completed online at https://bit.ly/2reEsEe, or paper copies are also available at any registration area of Norton County Hospital and Norton Medical Clinic, as well as the Norton County Health Department and Home Health and a few other locations throughout the county. Paper copies can also be obtained by contacting Norton County Hospital at 785-877-3351.
The Community Health Needs Assessment results are being collected by Wichita State University's Center for Applied Research and Evaluation, a third-party unbiased entity; researchers will also formulate the results into a meaningful packaged report. The hospital’s foundation, the Norton Regional Health Foundation, has provided the funding for this project.
“The Norton Regional Health Foundation is involved in this project, because it aligns with its mission – ‘to support the enhancement of quality health care for the residents of Norton County,’” said Katie Allen, Norton Regional Health Foundation’s executive director. “We need to hear from local citizens on how we can provide health care to our highest potential and use our resources wisely. For example, our Foundation can use the feedback to prioritize funding for projects our citizens believe to be most important.”
Ultimately, health care affects us all, Allen said, and the sustainability of health care services in Norton County directly relates to the sustainability of the county's rural towns: “We need to hear from Norton County citizens their ideas to make health care better for them. Then we need to set goals and figure out ways to achieve these goals so citizens feel comfortable receiving health care services in Norton County. These services are not only important to those receiving them; they are important to those of us at the hospital and other health care entities in the county who provide them.”
Gina Frack, Norton County Hospital’s chief executive officer, said the compiled data and community input will allow numerous entities in the county to develop a direction for the future.
“The process of determining where we are and then where we need to be will be the framework for our hospital’s strategic planning,” Frack said. “We plan to share the data we gather broadly so others may be able to understand and use it, too.”
Frack added that these types of assessments must be completed on a routine basis due to the continuously evolving health care system in the United States: “Our traditional health care system focuses on one patient at a time and only within the walls of our facilities. However, a majority of our citizens’ lives are lived outside those walls. It is there that the greatest influencers on health exist, and it is our hope that the results uncover commonalities for those health issues in and out of the traditional health care setting.”
The hospital, clinic and health department have always had supportive relationships, said Leslie Pfannenstiel, Norton County Health Department’s administrator, and have worked together in the past on Community Health Needs Assessments.
“Collaboration occurs on a daily basis in the provision of care to clients and the communities we serve,” Pfannenstiel said. “The Community Health Needs Assessment assists us in knowing the needs of Norton County residents and also better equips us in pursuing grants and meeting grant requirements – an important component of keeping rural health care accessible.”
Following the survey portion, the data will be presented in “town hall” type meetings to allow for further discussion. Those dates and times will be communicated once details are finalized. The final step will be the development of a health care strategic planning process for Norton County. The theme for the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment and strategic planning process is “Your Health Matters.”