Nov 17, 2022
Our conversation today about community health was pretty eye-opening and insightful. It is part of our community health partnership with Valley Health where we talk each month with administrators, physicians, and other Valley Health staff about health topics, events, and the community.
Joining me today was Jason Craig, Director of Community Health for Valley Health. He highlighted his professional journey which includes direct experience in social service, education, behavioral health, and healthcare.
We discussed the value of the Community Health Needs Assessment to identify and address all the needs surrounding community health. Every three years Valley Health conducts Community Health Needs Assessments for each of their hospitals, identifying priority health needs in the communities they serve. They work with health departments, United Way and other nonprofit agencies, local government officials and other key community stakeholders to learn where gaps in services exist and to identify priorities for action. Each hospital then develops implementation strategies for addressing the identified needs. The draft is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks at which time it will be made public. The results from previous CHNAs can be found by clicking here.
Jason told us about the many partnerships they've formed with nonprofits, Shenandoah University and other organizations across our communities. He talked of programs focused on workforce development, mental health, substance use, homelessness, and food insecurity. In particular, he told us about a recent $1 million grant awarded to Page Memorial Hospital from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program to remediate the impact of COVID-19 and improve health and access to care in Page County.
We also spent some time discussing all the social determinants that play a major role in community health. He spoke of a University of Wisconsin study that highlighted social determinants such as access to healthcare, health behaviors (tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use); physical environment (access to healthy foods, quality of housing, crime and violence); and socioeconomic (education, job status, social support, family support, income, community safety.) He explained that those social determinants can be broken down into five major areas: neighborhood and build environment, health and healthcare, social and community context, education and economic stability.