October 3, 2019

Addressing Community Health Needs: Cooley Dickinson Announces Report, Plan

October 3, 2019

A grant from Cooley Dickinson in 2018 helped Grow Food Northampton, a nonprofit that supports both sustainable local agriculture and affordable, accessible healthy food, to bring fresh farm produce to subsidized housing communities in Northampton.

How does Cooley Dickinson Health Care identify the health care needs of the community it serves and support programs that advance the health of local residents?

Determining those priorities is done through a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which Cooley Dickinson conducts every three years. Cooley Dickinson’s CHNA report and implementation plan is now available.

The 2019 CHNA focuses on the areas of
• social and economic determinants that impact health;
• barriers to accessing quality health care;
• health conditions and behaviors; and
• underserved and vulnerable populations.

Within these categories, improving food systems and addressing the needs of specific populations such as older adults were identified as priorities. Cooley Dickinson will focus on these area and others as they implement their plans in 2020 and going forward.

The health assessment represents several months of looking at data and talking to local residents about the meaning behind the data.

“We held community forums and conducted interviews to help develop a more complete picture of health,” says Cooley Dickinson’s Director of Community Health and Government Relations Jeff Harness.

“Many agencies in the area use our report for planning and grant writing. We use it ourselves to guide decision making around community grants and developing programs.”

For example, Harness says the CHNA surfaced a need to help older adults who are socially isolated. “There are many programs in the area that serve older adults and we are looking forward to partnering with them,” adds Harness, who in his role at Cooley Dickinson coordinates the CHNA process and oversees Cooley Dickinson’s implementation plan.

To view the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment and the Cooley Dickinson Community Health Improvement plan, visit the webpage.

About the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) Process
A Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is a systematic examination of health status indicators for a given population that is used to identify key problems and assets in a community. The ultimate goal of a CHNA is to develop strategies to address the community’s health needs and identified issues. Non-profit hospitals like Cooley Dickinson are required to conduct a CHNA every three years under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as the Massachusetts Attorney General’s guidelines.


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