Spirit of CHNAs Realized: Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force Seeks Community Health Data | $name

Lakewood Wellness

Spirit of CHNAs Realized: Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force Seeks Community Health Data

Mon, Jul 17, 2017  -  Comments (0)  -   Posted by Kirstin Craciun

I always think it’s pretty awesome when my work life and personal life collide, which is what happened to me recently when my friend Judy Wright called and asked if I could present information to the Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force on which she serves. The topic: community health needs assessments (CHNAs). Why was I so excited? Well, I live in Lakewood. My husband and I are raising three awesome kids who attend Lakewood City Schools and do a ridiculous amount of sportsing in Lakewood. I met Judy when our daughters became friends in Kindergarten in Lakewood. We all share a love of this community and I can’t think of a greater honor than having the opportunity to share with the Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force what I can to inform a process designed to improve the health and wellness of my friends and neighbors.

Before I get lost in a stream of consciousness, let me provide some background on healthcare in Lakewood. Healthcare services in the Lakewood community have undergone a transformation with the closing of Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Hospital and the conversion of the hospital into a 24-hour emergency clinic and family health center. Part of that process involves the creation of a yet-to-be formed wellness foundation. The Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force, with seventeen Lakewood residents appointed to serve, is charged with determining the structure of the new foundation that will be formed, establishing the mission and criteria for selecting trustees, and creating and adopting its bylaws. Furthermore, the task force is seeking to understand the local health landscape and identify core issues that impact residents’ health and wellness.

This particular meeting of the Task Force was to learn more about the health needs of Lakewood residents. I had the opportunity to collaborate with Martha Halko, Deputy Director of Prevention and Wellness at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (and a member of the Task Force). Martha presented information related to the root causes of poor health and health inequities and I covered the federal regulatory framework governing CHNAs, recent state-level population health planning work that will impact future CHNAs and local data regarding the health needs of Lakewood residents. The 2016 Cleveland Clinic Fairview CHNA contained a special analysis of the health needs of Lakewood residents, which was incredibly helpful in framing the health needs of Lakewood residents.

So what did Cleveland Clinic’s analysis of Lakewood’s health needs teach us? I’ll provide a quick snapshot. As shown in the map below, there are many students who qualify for free and reduced lunch in Lakewood’s public schools. In terms of areas of greatest need, the eastern end of the city has a greater proportion of students who qualify for free and reduced price lunches. Clearly, the safety net that the National School Lunch Program provides is essential to ensuring Lakewood’s children receive the proper nutrition they need.

Spirit of CHNAs Realized: Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force Seeks Community Health Data

Numbers are great – and they can definitely teach us a lot. But it’s not enough to just analyze publicly available data. Ensuring that community input into key health needs is also gathered and examined is also helpful and important given the time lag of many publicly available data sources. And besides, who can better explain the health needs in a community than people living, working or playing in that community?

Fortunately, Cleveland Clinic Fairview’s 2016 CHNA contains a summary from interviews that were conducted with individuals representing Lakewood City government, the Lakewood Fire Department, North Coast Health, and Lakewood City Schools. I shared with the Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force the areas of greatest need that were identified through those interviews. Listed below are the health needs that were mentioned – ranked in order from those most frequently mentioned to least frequently mentioned. Access to care (particularly for uninsured, underinsured, and immigrant populations), chronic conditions (think obesity and associated health conditions) and mental health and behavioral health services (particularly for the low-income population) were the top identified health needs.

Spirit of CHNAs Realized: Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force Seeks Community Health Data

Well, that’s a lot of information to try to digest. So what were Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force members meant to conclude from the Lakewood analysis contained in Cleveland Clinic Fairview’s 2016 CHNA? After reviewing many data sources and the results of community surveys, a summary of the top health needs identified in the 2016 Cleveland Clinic Fairview CHNA for Lakewood are described below and provide a helpful framework for considering where resources in the community might be most effectively spent.

Spirit of CHNAs Realized: Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force Seeks Community Health Data

The community health needs assessment was designed to play an integral role in pinpointing areas where resources should be directed to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable individuals are met. I applaud the Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force for seeking community health information, including CHNA findings, as they develop recommendations that can help inform planning related to the distribution of resources to improve the health of vulnerable populations. This is exactly how the CHNA results are meant to be used and somewhere I like to think that the people who crafted the CHNA provision of the ACA are smiling because the spirit of what they were seeking to accomplish is playing out in real and important ways in my home community.

Posted in Population Health
About the Author

Kirstin Craciun

I grew up in Canada where access to healthcare for all citizens is a core principle. I bring that thinking to the work I do as The Center for Health Affairs’ director of community outreach. I spend my days helping Northeast Ohio hospitals assess health needs in the community; develop collab...

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