Building a Healthier Community

Building a Healthier Community

Every three years, Meritus Health conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment or CHNA to help us understand the health status of our community. In 2015, with help from Healthy Washington County, a coalition of local organizations, Meritus Health began to implement the CHNA. This work will help us establish priorities, develop programs and commit resources to improve the health status of the communities we serve.

Why is community health important?

The health of a community can often be attributed to the socioeconomic factors, health behaviors and the environment. Also known as public health, community health protects and improves the health of the community by supporting people to be or stay healthy, preventing people from getting sick or injured, providing access to preventative care and educating people about unhealthy behaviors.

A healthy community also means a healthy workforce—and that’s an important factor when drawing new businesses to area. In addition, healthier children and students are also more equipped to learn and be successful later in life.

How healthy is Washington County?

Through the work of the CHNA, surveys, interviews and focus groups were used to ask residents of various ages, races and ethnicities about their health-related lifestyles and factors that impacted their well-being. Preliminary data indicates that obesity, substance abuse, mental health, diabetes, healthy lifestyle and heart disease remain our community’s biggest concerns. The results align with the Centers for Disease Control Community Health Status Indicator Report of 2015.

How do you build a healthy community?

Meritus Health is committed to making our community healthier and more vital. In recent months, our partnership with local organizations for the Healthy Washington County campaign encouraged people to take personal responsibility for their health by participating in regular blood pressure screenings. More than 9,000 individuals were positively impacted by the campaign.

The Meritus School Health program provides care for the more than 22,000 students of Washington County Public Schools. School nurses conduct direct health care to students, offer screenings and referrals for health conditions, address potential health problems and educate students on healthy habits.

Meritus Health and the Healthy Washington County partners will continue the work of the 2016 CHNA to:

  • Improve access to preventative health services
  • Deliver health education
  • Connect people to health resources
  • Identify patient care and program interventions

“Given the many factors that influence health, improving the community's health must be a shared responsibility,” says Allen Twigg, director of behavioral and community health services. “The CHNA provides a framework for health providers, social service organizations, business and government to work collaboratively towards improving conditions that will result in improved health.”

Through these partnerships, we will work to impact the quality of life in our region and help people achieve their healthiest potential.

For more information on the Community Health Needs Assessment click here.