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Kent State’s College of Public Health Works With Hospital Systems to Review Community Health Needs Assessment Data

Posted Feb. 3, 2014

Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System and Summa Health System recently completed a Community Health Needs Assessment that will help the three hospital systems prioritize and guide their efforts in the next three years.

Working with the Kent State University College of Public Health, the three hospital systems reviewed a wide variety of epidemiologic data for Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties. Additional input was obtained from community resident focus groups and interviews with community leaders and public health experts. A steering committee composed of members from the three hospital systems directed the effort, which began in November 2012. 

The following were among the health needs identified as priorities for adults and children through the 2013 assessment:

  • Chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes
  • Maternal and infant health, such as premature births and infant mortality
  • Birth risk factors, such as maternal tobacco use and lack of prenatal care
  • Lifestyle factors, such as obesity and tobacco use
  • Mental health concerns, including depression and access to care
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol, opiate and prescription drug abuse
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Access to healthcare, including health insurance coverage
  • Quality of care, including preventable hospital stays and elder care
  • Environmental factors, including access to healthy food

The hospitals are developing implementation plans and setting goals. Some will be collaborative. For example, Akron Children’s has identified type 2 diabetes as a priority and helping its pediatric patients eventually transition to adult care is an area where all three hospitals could work together.

“This Community Health Needs Assessment is an opportunity for us to pause, look at the needs of the community and develop strategies to meet those needs, either individually or collaboratively,” says Tom Strauss, president and CEO of Summa Health System. “This is a blueprint for the next three years.”

Implementation strategies will most likely be based on each hospital’s current activities, the potential for community impact and available resources.

“The hospitals are here to serve the community,” says Thomas L. “Tim” Stover, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of Akron General Health System. “During this ever-changing time for healthcare, it’s especially important to step back and assess what’s going on in our communities and hear from the people on the front lines of care delivery, as well as those who look to us for their care.”

This is the second time the three hospitals have worked together on a community health needs assessment. The first was conducted in 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 now requires nonprofit hospitals to conduct community health needs assessments every three years.

“Whether this is a mandated activity or not, I know those of us at Akron Children’s believe this is part of our mission – to listen to and learn from the community – and I know our community’s two adult hospital systems believe in the same philosophy,” says Bill Considine, president and CEO of Akron Children’s. “We are fortunate to live in a community that has so many wonderful organizations and agencies committed to helping people and improving lives.”

Copies of the assessment are now available on the websites of the three hospital systems.

For more information about Kent State’s College of Public Health, visit