Like many regions across the United States, south central Pennsylvania has its share of challenges.
Families lack sufficient health insurance coverage. Young people are making choices that could adversely impact their health and their futures.
And, increased longevity and chronic illnesses translate to significant challenges for individuals and caregivers.
While this list of issues is long, longer still is the list of organizations and people who work collaboratively with WellSpan to make the communities of south central Pennsylvania healthier, better places to live, work and play.
WellSpan conducted its first Community Health Needs Assessment in York County in 1994 and in Adams County in 1996.
The assessments, conducted every three years, were developed to enable WellSpan and other entities to better understand the health needs of the communities it serves.
A Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is required to be conducted as part of the Affordable Health Care Act. A plan to address priorities identified in the CHNA must be developed and implemented.
WellSpan has developed a three-year Community Health Improvement Plan that provides a framework for the organization’s programs and activities that promote health and wellness in response to the needs identified in the 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment.
“It’s important to realize that veryone can play a role in addressing these issues and initiatives,” said Kevin Alvarnaz, director, community health improvement.
“It doesn’t matter where you work or what community you live in, you can be engaged in one way or another.”
Alvarnaz stressed that there’s a growing emphasis on preventive medicine and wellness.
Here is how the Community Health Improvement Plan will focus its efforts during fiscal years 2013-2015:
• Health equity and access - Maintain a strong safety net while evaluating and planning for the future of WellSpan programs to reach, engage and support the uninsured and underinsured population during a period of uncertainty related to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
• At-risk populations - Develop and initiate improvements in behavioral health services, including identifying and managing adults with depression.
• Community engagement - Engage the community, through coalitions and partnerships, to address the following issues: end of life care, health literacy, oral health, physical activity and prenatal care.
• Prevention and wellness - Develop initiatives and resources that seek to demonstrate improvements in two areas: adult overweight/obesity and tobacco use.