AHN releases community health results | Local News
Allegheny Health Network has released the results of its 2021-22 Community Health Needs Assessment, a study conducted to better understand the health-related needs of area residents.
The results of the assessment show that food insecurity, substance use disorders, barriers to accessing health care, health equity, chronic diseases such as diabetes and lung disease and mental and behavioral health are some of the most pressing community health and well-being concerns in the region.
CHNAs assess the health needs of the counties and municipalities served by a hospital, and then the hospital develops and implements plans and strategies to improve the overall well-being of patients in the communities it serves.
CHNA 2021-22 was the first to be completed in the era of COVID-19. AHN says the report reveals a region that is still recovering from the pandemic, particularly when it comes to issues such as food insecurity, workforce development, access to behavioral health and the health care inequality.
Kannu Sahni, vice president of community affairs at Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network, said it’s critical for AHN to address the social determinants of health and health equity (diversity, equity and inclusion) .
“Hospitals are looking at heart disease and cancer and other health issues, but we’ve really broadened that. We looked at these social determinants of health, equity and inclusion, knowing full well that for a community to have better health outcomes, all of these needs must be met,” Sahni said.
Many of the concerns identified in AHN’s needs assessment, such as food insecurity, are persistent. To address ongoing food insecurity issues, for example, AHN has opened in-hospital healthy eating centers where patients can receive healthy meals and nutrition consultations.
Over the past three years, AHN has launched several programs aimed at improving health equity and addressing the social determinants of health – the cultural, social, financial and other non-medical barriers that often prevent patients from receive the care they need.
The CHNA has also shown that mental health and access to behavioral health are key concerns for community members, especially children and adolescents. Three years ago, AHN launched its “Chill Project,” a school-based mental health, mindfulness, and resiliency program that places counselors in dozens of area schools.
The CHNA includes data on the needs of each AHN hospital facility, including AHN Canonsburg.
Specifically, AHN Canonsburg’s goals are to address the social determinants of health, including transportation, access to care, substance use disorders, chronic conditions of diabetes and heart disease. , health equity and access to primary care physicians.
One of AHN Canonsburg’s plans is to hold health fairs, including an upcoming health fair at Canonsburg Middle School which is in the works, to provide information and screenings related to several issues healthcare, according to Keith Zimmer, director of volunteer services at AHN Canonsburg.
A recent health fair held during the Oktoberfest celebration in Canonsburg drew about 50,000 people over three days, he said.
AHN’s CHNA reports can be viewed at: https://www.ahn.org/about/caring-for-our-community/community-health-needs-assessment.html.
Washington Health System and Penn Highlands Mon Valley released results from their joint 2021 CHNA this summer.
Among the significant health issues identified in Washington County are drug overdose deaths; coronary disease; lung, breast and colorectal cancer; COPD; stroke; suicide and diabetes.
Based on the findings of the assessment, WHS and Penn Highlands Mon Valley have committed to focus on specific priorities.
WHS will prioritize reducing colorectal cancer deaths and lung cancer deaths, while PHMV will focus on substance abuse, stroke deaths, diabetes-related deaths, breast cancer deaths and death from lung cancer.
“The results of the latest Community Health Needs Assessment are not surprising and fundamentally consistent with what we expected based on the patients we saw at Penn Highlands Mon Valley,” said Danyell Bundy, director of operations and major gifts for Penn. Highlands Healthcare System Foundation, which commissions the assessments for the healthcare system.
Penn Highlands Mon Valley has several programs in place to meet these needs. For example, the Community Care Network follows patients with COPD and provides ongoing education. Diabetic patients can receive nutritional advice from clinical staff specializing in nutrition and diabetes; and the Hahne Cancer Center treats lung, breast, and colorectal cancer patients with the latest therapies and state-of-the-art equipment.
The health system is building a detox unit dedicated to treating drug and alcohol abuse on the seventh floor of the hospital, which is expected to open in the spring of 2023.
Bundy also noted that people have delayed their regular screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Men and women keep coming back because through marketing and education efforts, people in our communities recognize the importance of early detection through screenings,” Bundy said.
WHS vice president of strategy and clinical services, Larry Pantuso, said the hospital will continue to address other health issues, including drug use disorders, food insecurity and breast cancer, as it focuses on colorectal and lung cancers.
“These other things haven’t gone away, but we have resources in place to deal with them and we will continue to do so. We looked at (the CHNA) and said there was a plethora of things to fix. Which of these things have the most available resources to make a big difference in the least amount of time? said Pantuso. “Colorectal cancer and lung cancer are horrible, but early detection and treatment is a lifesaver. With colorectal and lung cancer, colonoscopies and screenings can be a real game-changer for people when caught early.
He also encouraged people to see their primary care physician, an important step in overall patient care.
“No one should ever feel like they have no place to turn. Nothing can replace the relationship they have with their PCP, which can provide them with a lot of information for their total well-being, be it their physical or mental health,” he said.
CHNAs are completed by health systems every three years. The reports were based on feedback from key stakeholders, interviews, surveys and other data.
Pantuso encouraged residents to complete the CHNA survey if they receive one “so we can get an accurate assessment of what’s going on in the community.”
To view the WHS and Penn Highlands Mon Valley CHNA report, visit https://whs.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Community-Health-Needs-Assessment-Final-Report-2021.pdf.