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College Assisting Summit County Hospital Systems with Needs Assessment

Posted Jan. 31, 2013

The college has a major new assignment to provide consulting and technical assistance to the three Summit County hospital systems in performing a comprehensive community health needs assessment (CHNA), a new requirement in the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
 
“Nonprofit hospitals are now required by the Internal Revenue Service to conduct the CHNA and develop health improvement plans for all of the communities in which they have a presence,” explains Willie H. Oglesby, Ph.D., assistant professor of Health Policy & Management and leader of the three-year study involving Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System and Summa Health System.  The overall goal is to help shape capacity for greater impact on community health, to make investments as efficient and effective as possible and to identify additional ways the hospital systems and other organizations can engage to solve community health problems.  
 
“Kent State has a broad and growing base of expertise with health care reform, and we’re receiving lots of calls from throughout the region for assistance,” Oglesby says.
 
“The Kent State team was selected because it has the credibility and background to help develop a study we can stand by for implementation,” explains Bernett L. Williams, vice president of External Affairs, Akron Children’s Hospital.  “This joint assessment will serve as a call to action,” she adds.
 
In Phase I of the project, the team will synthesize epidemiological data from some 60 sources and also conduct interviews and focus groups with local community stakeholders.  In Phase II, Kent State will facilitate a dialogue with the three health systems to develop a prioritized action plan.  A third phase will involve implementation assistance and a reassessment of community health needs after three years.  “This major project will also provide opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience in developing, implementing and evaluating programs,” says Oglesby.  
 
“The study will enable us to demonstrate that our program initiatives do, in fact, meet the identified needs,” says Roxia Boykin, vice president, Community Benefit and Diversity, Summa Health System.  “The three institutions partnering also allows us to be great fiscal stewards of resources that are really the community’s,” Boykin says.  
 
“Right away, the community will benefit,” says Suzanne Hobson, director, Community Health and Community Relations, Akron General Health System.  “With the prioritized list of needs in hand, we’ll determine how to work collaboratively and individually to satisfy our mission to improve health and lives,” she adds.
 
“It’s a win-win-win for the community, partnership and the College of Public Health,” agrees Michael Wellendorf, government relations liaison, Akron Children’s Hospital.