VDMC, PH hold town hall meeting

More than 50 local residents, health care providers, government officials and business leaders gathered Monday night to hear the results of the recent Hamilton County Community Health Needs Assessment.

The town hall-style meeting was held in the Van Diest Medical Center cafeteria and was hosted by the hospital and Hamilton County Public Health. VDMC CEO Lori Rathbun and Shelby Kroona, public health administrator, said the data collected will help the hospital and the Healthy Hamilton Coalition proceed with planning and implementing programs for the future.

“We think that this (the survey) will help guide us collectively, not just the hospital,” Rathbun said. “We do feel we need to be leaders in this, in helping our community identify goals and create strategies in implementing those goals.”

“We’re all in this together, in the shift in population and care management, our obligation to move from volume to value and help make sure we’re achieving the goals of the community,” she said.

Rathbun said some of the results from the survey, which area residents either mailed in or completed online, were no surprise.

“It just validates some of the things we were already looking at to create some goals. But we need to do that together,” said Rathbun.

Kroona said she was thankful that the hospital had stepped forward and hired VVV Marketing and Development Inc. to conduct the assessment. She added that she felt the information and input from the community was key to moving forward with the Healthy Hamilton plans.

“Back in February, when we had the kickoff for the Healthy Hamilton initiative, this was the piece that was missing. We had some national data, but no local survey data,” she said.

Vince Vandehaar, owner of VVV Marketing and Development, lead the group through the results from the survey. He said 238 surveys were returned.

“I like the response rate and I have confidence in the data,” he told the crowd. He added that the survey results were based upon the perceptions of the respondents and while some may not have used or experiences some of the items on the questionnaire, they may have responded with what they had heard about the service or item.

The survey respondents identified many areas of health care that they felt needed more attention or education. Vandehaar outlined the top responses which also received the most comments on the survey.

“Obesity, mental illness, drugs, aging and dementia, alcohol and pain management,” he said. “These coincided with many of the comments.”

He outlined several of the common themes with the comments received:

having more opportunity for outpatient specialty services to avoid traveling

more doctors are needed

acute mental health crisis intervention

long-term mental health care and placement

need for knowledgeable emergency room doctors

the hospital is new but care needs to be improved

the doctors need to be more prevention focused

accessible and affordable diabetes education

more teen-friendly services for contraceptives.

After he presented the data, Vandehaar asked each person attending to list what they believed are the strengths of healthcare in the community along with what aspects could be improved or strengthened. He also asked the attendees to list any future plans or developments that could impact healthcare in Hamilton County.

After all had completed their comment cards, he asked each table to share their responses which were compiled onto master sheets on the wall. Each participant was then asked to vote on the top four issues mentioned in the discussion. Those results will be shared at a future meeting.