Natchaug Hospital 2022 Community Health Improvement Plan To Improve Access to Care
Natchaug Hospital has released its 2022 Community Health Improvement Plan, identifying four areas of focus that are intended to address root causes of community health issues. The hospital’s development department will work in conjunction with community partners to continue or implement programs that will be most effective in impacting change.
“As community health leaders, this plan is essentially our call to action over the next three years to do our part to assure those we serve live long and healthy lives,” said Kate McNulty, Director of Development for the Behavioral Health Network. “Community partnerships will be a key ingredient to achieving success. This plan aims to further develop and pursue active engagement with the community.”
The 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for Natchaug leveraged numerous sources of local, regional, state and national data along with input from community-based organizations and individuals.
In addition to assessing traditional health status indicators, the 2021 CHNA took a close look at social determinants of health (SDH) such as poverty, housing, transportation, education, fresh food availability, and neighborhood safety and contains an Equity Profile. These two enhancements are in response to the lessons of COVID and in recognition of an emerging national priority to identify and address health disparities and inequities. HHC and Natchaug are committed to addressing these disparities and inequities through its Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), McNulty said.
“Health assessments help us examine changes to the health of our community, provide insights as to how residents can lead healthy and happy lives, and identify key health issues facing the community,” said McNulty. “The definition of health now includes the quality of the community in which we live, work, and play – not just the lifestyle habits of individuals. A comprehensive assessment process must provide a framework that helps communities prioritize public health issues; identify resources for addressing them; and effectively develop and implement community health improvement plans.”
The Natchaug Hospital region consists of Chaplin, Columbia, Coventry, Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield, Scotland, and Windham. However, Natchaug Hospital operates facilities throughout Eastern Connecticut, including Norwich, Franklin, Groton, Killingly, Vernon, Enfield, and Old Saybrook.
The four areas of focus are:
- Promote Healthy Behaviors and Lifestyles
- Reduce the Burden of Chronic Disease
- Improve the Coordination of Services and Access to Care
- Enhance Community-Based Behavioral Health Services
Community Assessment Results
The focus areas were identified based on results of surveys, interviews and analysis of data from other sources. Within Natchaug’s geographic region, data shows the population has:
- Comparatively high prevalence of food insecurity
- Comparatively high rates of mortality due to non-medical drug abuse and misuse
- Comparatively high rates of excessive drinking with 17.7 percent of adults reporting abuse
- Poor mental health status and comparatively high rates of suicide
- Problematic access to mental health care and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment services, which have been affected by an undersupply of providers in some geographic areas, limited transportation resources, gaps in insurance coverage, and overall affordability.
Programming for Health Improvement
- Increase access to a steady, healthy food supply
- Increase knowledge around the importance of proper use and disposal of prescription medications and the dangers of using illegal substances
- Increase knowledge around the dangers of alcohol abuse
Coordination of Services
- Support the availability of psychiatric services in the region
- Provide Narcan™ kits and training on how to dispense the drug
- Provide information on suicide prevention strategies
- Provide resources in the community to help identify depression and provide support accessing services at the appropriate level of car
- Promote access to behavioral health services by helping the community identify persons experiencing a behavioral health crisis through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training
- Ensure clients and the community are able to connect as peers