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Healthier Sussex hospitals unite to assess community needs

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The Healthier Sussex County Task Force, consisting of representatives from the three hospitals in the county and multiple community partners, came together for the second time to complete a Community Health Needs Assessment.

“While each hospital has to develop its own assessment and implementation plan for improving the health of the communities it serves, working together is important to making a larger impact on the health of our residents,” said Steven Rose, CEO of Nanticoke Health Services.

Working together, the member hospitals, including Bayhealth Milford Memorial, Beebe Healthcare, and Nanticoke Health Services, identify areas of need that are common throughout the county.  According to hospital officials, the goal is to develop initiatives where the organizations can pool resources to make a greater impact for all.  Efficiencies in sharing resources began with the collection of data for the assessment itself.

Together the group compiled data collected from surveys and interviews with community members from all sectors and regions of Sussex County to find common concerns. In addition to the more than  129 stakeholders surveyed, over 2,100 community members  were surveyed, asking what they felt were some of the most important health needs and what barriers to care they experience.

“Combined with federal and state data, the feedback from the community helps us determine which areas to focus on first,” said Jeffrey M. Fried, president and CEO of  Beebe Healthcare.  “This is the second time we have worked through this process since 2012 and we have had some great successes.”

“The latest assessment has identified healthcare issues that impact all of our communities,” said Terry Murphy, president and CEO of Bayhealth.  “Mental health and substance abuse issues are a big challenge for Delaware and for Sussex County.  Working together, we are digging further into the patterns that each community is facing so that we can look for ways to help these patients more effectively.”

Another widespread concern is the high percentage of residents that are either overweight or obese.   The Healthier Sussex County Task Force began with formal efforts to address obesity through the Plus 3 program launched in 2014; this program has now been launched statewide, as Motivate the 1st State, and is gaining traction across the entire state.

Many of the needs identified in the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment will serve as the foundation for future Healthier Sussex Task Force initiatives and programming, according to officials. For more information about Community Health Needs Assessments or the Healthier Sussex County Task Force, please visit www.healthiersussexcounty.com.

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