Saint Francis Healthcare System Tackles Serious Health Needs Identified in Study

Saint Francis Healthcare System has completed a months-long study of community health needs in Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Scott and Stoddard counties. While health need priorities have changed over the years, many major health issues have not.

In its 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), Saint Francis identified obesity in adults and children, mental health, cancer, heart disease and healthcare affordability to be priority health issues in the studied counties.

Under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements, every not-for-profit hospital must conduct a comprehensive CHNA every three years to maintain their not-for-profit status as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. This is the third CHNA completed by Saint Francis.

“A Community Health Needs Assessment helps hospitals to identify the priority health issues faced by the communities they serve,” said Stephen Njenga, MPH, MHA, CPHQ, CPPS, Director of Performance Measurement Compliance for the Missouri Hospital Association. “These findings help hospitals to focus their efforts where they are needed most to help create and sustain healthy communities.”

All data from the CHNA must be reported to a governing board for adoption and then shared widely with the community. The Saint Francis Healthcare System Board adopted the CHNA and implementation plan during its June 13 meeting.

For the CHNA, Saint Francis reported data and findings per county. Individual surveys were completed by 237 people, and six focus groups took place in the four counties. These individuals were from at-risk populations including the uninsured, underinsured and those at-risk due to poverty or health disorders. Public health and community officials participated in local focus groups.

Primary data for the CHNA was gathered in conjunction with SoutheastHEALTH and county health departments. Secondary data sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provided snapshots of the counties. A recognized formula for prioritizing community health needs was used to establish the health and behavioral issues selected in the CHNA.

A CHNA executive summary and implementation plan summarize what Saint Francis will do to address the identified needs. “Saint Francis has been addressing these needs for years in many different ways,” said Thomas Diemer, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Saint Francis. “We recently announced a program to lower healthcare costs. Saint Francis Healthcare offers a number of free screenings for cancer, heart conditions and chronic diseases. We also reach out to collaborate with those counties with health and socioeconomic concerns.”

Saint Francis’ CHNA can be found online. “Messaging to the community at large is going out so that all who have a stake in improving the care of our residents can utilize and partner with us to improve their health and lives. Saint Francis is called to serve the community and this assessment is just one of many, many ways we do that,” said Jimmy Wilferth, Vice President of Saint Francis Foundation and Marketing.

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