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HCM Community Health Assessment Identifies Top Health Needs
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 • Posted December 4, 2013

rvey and review, the results of the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for Hill Country Memorial have been completed and are ready to share with the community.

According to Emily Padula, RN, MHI, Executive Director of Integration and Outreach, the top three community health needs for Gillespie County residents are:

1. Prevention of obesity and chronic disease through nutrition and activity

2. Access to healthcare for low-income families

3. Early identification of diabetes, heart disease, and pre-diabetes

“Out of all the findings of our extensive assessment process, these three clearly rose to the surface,” Padula said. “We will be partnering with community stakeholders to address every need concerned with community health issues.”

The first step is raising awareness, according to Padula.

“It was surprising to learn that Gillespie County has one of the lower physical activity rates in Texas, as well as high obesity rates,” Padula said. “So one of our first goals is raising awareness, letting people know this can put them at a higher risk for conditions such as diabetes.”

The next steps are to address the key findings by implementing action plans. Those include collaborating with Gillespie County and Fredericksburg community partners in a program to support healthy restaurant food choices, providing personalized wellness education for patients who are at-risk of serious disease, educating community members on eligibility for healthcare funding sources, and providing diabetes screening in collaboration with community partners.

The comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment for Hill Country Memorial is a requirement of the Affordable Care Act. The hospital, in collaboration with other local health professionals and stakeholders, conducted the study of local residents this summer to help develop a “road map to health” for the people of Gillespie County. Hill Country Memorial used data collected through local, state, and federal public health organizations as well as telephone and online surveys of more than 700 community members.

The results were reviewed by a focus group of 70 community leaders and citizens, the Board of Trustees, and the administration of Hill Country Memorial.

The goal was to identify factors that affect the health of a population and then address those factors. Debbye Wallace Dooley, HCM Chief Strategy Officer, noted this is a community effort.

“This community assessment does more than produce a document,” Dooley said. “Now we have the foundation of an action plan to help us truly improve the lives of the people in our Gillespie County community.”

The survey will be repeated every three years, with a new implementation plan created annually.

“In our results, a continuum of opportunity emerged,” Padula said. “Diabetes and heart disease are often preceded by obesity, inactivity, poor nutrition, and lack of access to health care. Changes in eating and exercise make a huge difference in health. If we can ensure our community has good access to healthcare while supporting them in making healthy food and activity choices, we will see a big improvement in community health–including decreases in diabetes and heart disease.”

Gillespie County is currently ranked as the 6th healthiest county in Texas. The three-year goal is to become the 3rd healthiest county.

“Eventually we want to be first,” Padula said. “After all, at Hill Country Memorial, our mission is Empower Others. Create Healthy.”

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