Identify local needs for health care

Defining “health” and identifying local health care needs was the focus of the Peterson Health Community Health Needs Assessment 2022 exercise, which culminated with a group of local leaders brainstorming ideas on how to better serve the local community. based on researched data.

Lee Ann Lambdin, senior vice president of Health Care Strategy for Stratasan, who facilitated the process, visited 39 Kerr County residents and community leaders representing broad interests during April and May to gather information on perceived care needs health at the local level.

After formulating the data extracted from each individual interview and comparing it to public health care data, Lambdin invited participants to a final session to reveal the results and brainstorm strategies to address the identified needs.

“We have initiated the Community Health Needs Assessment in order to assess the health and needs of the community. This process is an affirmation of what we have done to improve health and has launched our next implementation plan,” said Peterson Health President/CEO Cory Edmondson.

Given Peterson Health’s large Hill Country service area, Lambdin said Kerr County was selected for the evaluation, saying Kerr County provided 72.5 percent of patient discharges for the Texas Department of State Health Services Region from Jan. 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. This region consists of 28 counties in South Central Texas.

According to Lambdin, the CHNA process revealed five key areas of focus that must be addressed in the community over the next three years to improve health care needs. They are:

• Abuse of substances;

• Housing (affordable) and access to health for the homeless population;

• Mental health;

• Diabetes;

• Education (as a means to escape poverty and improve health).

Regarding local data, Lambdin said Kerr County’s population has a median age of 50.3, while the statewide average is 35.5 and the nation is 38.8, with 29.4 percent of county residents over the age of 65, which is also much higher. higher than the state and national average.

The median household income for Kerr County residents is $57,405, which also trails the state ($63,524) and the nation ($64,730). However, Lambdin said, Kerr County has a lower poverty rate at 11.6 percent.

Kerr County residents, she said, spend about seven percent less on health care than the state average.

Lambdin also facilitated a 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, in which access to health care was identified as a top priority, which proved to improve for local residents, she said.

Based on the 2022 County Health Rankings Study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin, Kerr County ranks 92nd out of 244 Texas counties for health outcomes and 18th for health factors.

“Health outcomes consist of length of life and quality of life,” Lambdin said. “Health factors consist of health behaviors, clinical care, social factors, environmental factors, and the physical environment.”

Lambdin said the life expectancy of a Kerr County resident is 77.3 years, while the leading cause of death for local residents is heart disease, followed by cancer, COVID-19, Alzheimer’s disease, accidents, strokes, respiratory disease, diabetes, liver diseases and some others.

Unfortunately, Lambdin said, Kerr County ranks higher than the state and national average in suicide rates by at least 10 percent.

In terms of health behaviors, Kerr County ranks 37th out of 254 Texas counties. The local adult obesity rate is 36 percent versus the state and nation at 34 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

Kerr County also records higher rates of physical inactivity, smoking and teen births.

Utilization and availability of clinical care locally is strong, with preventable hospital stays and adults with diabetes below state and national averages. The availability of primary care physicians and dentists ranks equal or slightly lower per capita when compared to state and national averages, Lambdin said.

The biggest negative regarding health care availability comes with data showing that 24 percent of Kerr County’s population under the age of 65 does not have access to health insurance. Statewide, only 21 percent of the same demographic lacks health insurance, and in the United States only 11 percent.

Lambdin said there are four broad themes that emerged from the 2022 Peterson Health Community Health Needs Assessment.

“Kerr’s legacy must continue to create a ‘Culture of Health’ that permeates all cities, employers, churches and community organizations to drive commitment to improving health,” said Lambdin.

She said there is a direct link between health outcomes and wealth.

“Those with the lowest income and education generally have the poorest health outcomes,” Lambdin said.

While any given measure may show a good overall picture of community health, subgroups such as lower-income census tracts may experience lower measures of health status, she said.

Ultimately, Lambdin said improving community health will have to be a group effort, and Kerr County has the assets within the community to do so.

“It takes partnerships with a wide range of organizations and citizens who pool resources to meaningfully impact community health. Kerr County has many assets to improve health,” Lambdin said.

After participating in individual interviews and presenting local, state, and national data, local health needs assessment participants gathered for a final summit, in which they worked in groups to create goals and action plans based on the information they received. .

The most important need identified was mental health support.

Two goals were set to organize a behavioral health response team and to find funding for early intervention programs.

Due to the high number of county citizens without access to health insurance, the group set goals to centralize health care resources and reduce barriers for the uninsured to obtain health care.

In an effort to reduce the obesity rate of local residents, the group set a goal to reduce the collective BMI by 31 percent in three years by increasing education about healthy eating and partnering with schools and businesses to identify healthy eating choices. healthy food. It was also determined that increased opportunities for exercise helped.

Discussions and potential solutions to help with substance abuse, addressing disparity between socioeconomic groups, and finding ways to help with staffing shortages in the healthcare industry were identified.

“I’m encouraging you to act on these things (identified needs), don’t wait,” Edmondson said at the conclusion of the summit. “Buy a set together. Be action oriented. Be the leader you are and go take action.”

Edmondson said Peterson Health has conducted a health care needs assessment to provide service to the community, but cannot address all of the issues identified as an organization.

“A lot of these things are not in our wheelhouse,” Edmondson said. “Mental health is not in our hands. Housing is not in our control. But some of these items are and we will take action.”

Edmondson said Peterson Health will provide the results of the latest study to the community.

“The demand for health care in Kerr County is huge,” Edmondson said.

He attributed this demand to the higher-than-average average age of local residents.

“We have an older population and the demand is high, so it takes a lot of resources,” Edmondson said.

Regarding health care availability and accessibility, Edmondson said Peterson Health is doing their part to serve every citizen.

“Peterson Health provides nearly $16 million in gross spend for charity care,” Edmondson said. “In bad debt, there are $36 million in fees that we write off every year. We are an independent, not-for-profit, community-based hospital. We are very rare. There aren’t many of us left. We want to continue to do this and will continue to do it as long as we can, but the community needs to come together to fix some of these issues so that the burden is not on the hospital, on itself, or on the community. in general.”

To view the entire 2022 Peterson Health Community Health Care Needs Assessment, visit www.petersonhealth.com.

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