Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Chronic Disease Specialists
Top 2016 Health Needs Survey
Mental/behavioral health, substance abuse, programs for grandparents raising grandchildren, tick-borne diseases and chronic disease specialists were among the significant health needs revealed by a comprehensive four-month study of Wayne and Pike Counties and the Carbondale Area in Lackawanna County. The Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) was spearheaded by Wayne Memorial Hospital, in collaboration with its independent affiliate, Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) and numerous community partners. The study was conducted by HMS Associates, a nationally-recognized consulting firm from western New York, which has completed three similar studies in the area since 2003. Past studies have helped Wayne Memorial develop strategic initiatives to address critical unmet healthcare needs in the Wayne/Pike/Carbondale region.
“We are very much directed by the community we serve, and this needs assessment is our guide,” said David Hoff, CEO of Wayne Memorial Hospital/Health System. “Earlier community assessments led us to enhance our dental and behavioral health services in Pike County with a new building and new staff. The data helped strengthen grant applications and recruitment efforts. We hope for similar outcomes with this 2016 study.”
The study considered the overall Wayne Memorial service area as comprised of seven regions: Carbondale Area; Wayne County Central, North and South; and, Pike County East, South and West, encompassing a population of approximately 135,000 people. This segmented approach in the past has led to the identification of specific needs that allowed for directed interventions such as new primary care facilities/services in Carbondale Area, Wayne Central and South communities and Pike South.
Findings were based on two approaches – quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative approach involved the analysis of statistical data of Wayne, Pike, and Carbondale Area demographics and health care use in comparison to that of the total nine counties that comprise the Northeast Region of Pennsylvania. This analysis led to the identification of heart disease as the major cause of death/chronic disease, followed by malignant neoplasms (cancer) of all kinds, Alzheimer’s Disease, obesity and diabetes.
The qualitative analysis focused only on Wayne, Pike and Carbondale area perspectives gathered from face-to-face interviews with 40 local leaders at ten locations, plus a comprehensive internet survey. The web-based survey, believed to be indicative of a community’s readiness to respond to program development or expansion, garnered 1,110 responses to 22 questions. The overwhelming consensus was that the most significant health care needs were mental/behavioral health and substance abuse followed by access to specialists, prenatal education, programs for grandparents raising grandchildren, tick-borne illnesses and the fragility of the area’s primary care physician base due to the number of practitioners nearing or at retirement age.
All aspects of the study were guided by a 19-member advisory committee which included health care, business, education and elected officials as well as patients and community members from across the assessed area.
“The key leader interviews and the internet survey in particular offered insights that warrant consideration as significant needs for service development,” said Jack Dennis, manager of Grants and Development for Wayne Memorial Health System, “with greatest emphasis on mental/behavioral health, substance abuse and specialty care providers.”
Wayne Memorial Hospital/Health System Board Chairman Dirk Mumford added that the hospital was very appreciative of “all those who participated in the survey and whose responses provided the data to make the survey both meaningful and reflective of the health needs of the greater community served by Wayne Memorial.”
Following a similar community assessment in 2013, Wayne Memorial and WMCHC added or expanded primary care and/or outpatient services in Honesdale, Hamlin, Lords Valley and in the Vandling/Forest City area and developed a Veterans Clinic in Wayne County. Also, Wayne Memorial Hospital achieved certification as a Primary Stroke Center and, most recently, opened a new cardiac catheterization laboratory with three interventional cardiologists.
“We are listening to the community,” said Mr. Hoff, “which also told us in 2013 they wanted more accessible health care. Two Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers now offer walk-in care, and with our cath lab now open, emergency heart care is much closer to home.”
The study is available on the Wayne Memorial Hospital website at www.wmh.org.
Photo: Study encompassed these areas of the Wayne, Pike and Carbondale region.