By Jim Misunas
LARNED – A community wellness facility is the top priority for health needs in the county as determined by the results of a February needs assessment. A wellness center received 50 votes or 22.7 percent as the top priority by Pawnee County citizens.
Pawnee County Health Director Mary Beth Herrmann and Pawnee Valley Community Hospital Administrator Matt Heyn presented the report of the Community Health Needs Assessment in February by VVV Research and Development Inc. at a town hall meeting. A healthcare survey was also available online through the health department and Pawnee Valley Community Hospital. The hospital helped organize the healthcare assessment.
Herrmann said a wellness center could be a public facility where wellness education and the opportunity to exercise would be available.
“It would be a place where people would come and go,” she said.
The health assessment serves as the foundation for community health improvement effort in the area for the next three years, as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Act also requires non-profit hospitals to adopt an implementation strategy to meet the needs identified by the CHNA.
The needs assessment, administered by Vince Vandehaar, MBA, enlisted the collaboration of local individuals, partner groups, county government and healthcare leaders of the community to document current health needs and delivery, as well as record demographics and trends that affect the local population.
Herrmann said available data confirmed what the public thought about local healthcare.
“The public data that was available supported what the community members were saying at the town hall meeting,” she said. “It was a very valuable exercise because many of the items discussed correlated with wellness.”
Herrmann said it was important to get the public thinking and talking about healthcare. She said the public discussion sets the table for future decisions..
Other healthcare priorities were public awareness of services; mental health and counseling; medical transportation; cancer services; nutritional education; home health/hospice care; dental services for uninsured; obstetrical services; and increased selection of healthy eating options.
Herrmann and Heyn discussed several of the top priorities.
“The information collected will grow into an improvement of the overall health of the county and its communities,” Herrmann said. “We must think about the long-term benefits of health care to the citizens.”
Pawnee Valley Community Hospital could develop as a center for inpatient and outpatient care.
“The purpose of this assessment is to see us pull together,” Herrmann said.