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Williamsport – UPMC recently published 2019 Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) and Implementation Plans. The purpose is to outline ways in which they can work to improve the health of all the communities they serve.

In the reports, UPMC identifies the four most significant health needs across all UPMC communities:

  • Access to care and navigating resources

  • Behavioral health

  • Chronic disease management

  • Prevention and community-wide healthy living

UPMC asked for feedback from more than 2,000 community leaders and organziations that represent patients, including medically underserved, low income, and minority populations. They partnered with experts from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, analyzed public health data, considered socioeconomic factors, and factored in survey results.

It’s a rigorous process. Experts use the information to identify and prioritize the communities’ health needs, establish action plans, and identify resources to address those needs. 

The 2019 reports build on prior assessments and implementation plans that were developed in 2013 and 2016, recognizing that significant health needs will generally require more than 2 to 3 years to show meaningful improvement.

The Community Health Needs Assessment is a required document for all licensed non-profit hospitals in the country as part of a three-year cyclical process in order to be compliant with IRS 501(r) guidelines.

“At UPMC, we do more than just check the CHNA boxes,” said Leslie Davis, UPMC senior vice president, and executive vice president and chief operating officer, UPMC Health Services Division. 

“We approach the CHNA requirement as an opportunity to engage the community with a formally structured and detailed process guided by public health experts to ensure that health improvement efforts and resources are aligned with the most significant health needs of all of the diverse communities that UPMC serves,” Davis said.

Because of its vast geographic hospital network, for the first time, UPMC used a regional hub approach to develop the 2019 CHNAs — allowing local communities to set priorities, while supporting a coordinated community health strategy across each hospital in the UPMC network. UPMC’s CHNA regions are:

•             Allegheny County

•             Blair, Bedford & Somerset counties

•             Erie, McKean, Venango & Chautauqua (NY) counties

•             Lawrence & Mercer counties

•             Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, Potter & Tioga counties

•             Cumberland & Dauphin counties; York County; Lancaster County

Each report establishes specific local priorities unique to its communities, and all UPMC hospitals are focusing efforts within the four identified significant health needs. 

For example, UPMC Susquehanna and UPMC Cole are focused on access to specialty services, behavioral health and opioid addiction, and community health and wellness. 

Within the access to specialty services priority, the use of telemedicine enables person-to-person interaction between patients and offsite medical specialists. In addition, the implementation of visiting specialties programs are helping to bring specialty services such as cardiology, rheumatology, and sports medicine to rural communities.

The board of directors at each hospital adopted plans to address the needs identified and track associated improvements. The new reports document progress since prior CHNAs and delineates hospital-specific implementation plans that will address needs from 2019–2022.

“We are deeply rooted in our communities. With the essential collaboration with community partners, each of our hospitals is making measurable progress on its health initiatives, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to improving community health, and the CHNAs serve as a vital roadmap for our mission,” Davis said.