Friday, December 16, 2011

Health assessments to address community needs

FORUM FEEDBACK: From left, Tom Cunha, chairman of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council; Sean Getchell from Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty’s office; and Rebecca Love, co-president of the Charlestown Mothers Association Board of Directors, at a recent forum

Nearly 150 Charlestown residents turned out for a recent forum to discuss their neighborhood’s public health needs as part of the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement’s (CCHI) latest community health assessment effort. During the next eight months, CCHI will conduct health assessments in Charlestown, Revere and Chelsea.

The goal of the health assessments is to produce a comprehensive picture of the communities’ overall health by identifying priorities and creating strategies to address existing issues. As part of the initial review, CCHI has helped form advisory committees made up of community leaders who will assist with the process. CCHI is following the Center for Disease Control’s “Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships,” which provides recommendations for measuring community health – including offering opportunities for community input, such as the recent Charlestown meeting.

Once data is gathered from each location, the committees will prioritize health concerns and develop action plans. After approval by the MGH Board of Trustees, the plans will be made available to the public. The MGH and other community agencies can use the results to help address health concerns.

Although the MGH has long conducted health assessments in partnership with nearby communities, the new federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act now requires it of all nonprofit hospitals. Many of CCHI’s initiatives have grown out of these prior assessments. After its first assessment was conducted in 1995, Revere identified youth substance abuse as a priority. With CCHI’s support, the Revere CARES Coalition was created, which last year won a national award for reducing teen substance use.

Read more articles from the 12/16/11 Hotline issue.


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