WARRENSBURG — After the numbers were given, town hall attendees identified the top health needs the community must address following the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment.

Vince Vanderhaar, MBA, VVV Consultants, Olathe, Kansas, led the Community Health Needs Assessment Town Hall Meeting for Johnson County Tuesday night, June 11, at the Warrensburg Community Center.

The last CHNA was taken in 2016.

CEO Darinda Reberry said the hospital must conduct the assessment every three years “to prove how (a non-profit) hospital puts money back into the community.”

The requirement, enforced by the Internal Revenue Service under the Affordable Care Act, is designed to improve the health of communities by addressing needs identified by a broad spectrum of people served by the hospital.

This assessment update is a follow-up to meet final IRS regulations released on January 2, 2015, requiring all 501©3 hospitals to conduct a community health needs assessment and adopt an implementation strategy at least once every three years.

A CHNA is a systematic collection, assembly, analysis and dissemination of information about the health of the community.

The CNHA’s role is to identify factors that affected the health of a population and determine the availability of resources to adequately address those factors.

WMMC partnered with Johnson County Community Health Services to do the last assessment, which identified top concerns as: a lack of mental health services; obesity; lack of access to dental care for uninsured and under-insured residents; substance abuse; suicide; and family planning.

Community partners undertook projects in the various areas identified as concerns, Reberry said, including implementing a mental health text-for-help line.

WMMC and JCCHS teamed up again for the 2019 CHNA.

Reberry said the goal was to get 300 responses.

The 2019 CHNA saw 291 responses.

“We have a good representation in the 291,” Vanderhaar said in regards to the demographic of people that filled out the surveys.

About 30 people attended Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the results.

The town hall and the CHNA were both open to the public.

Vanderhaar opened the night by asking those in attendance to tell the truth when discussing the strengths and weaknesses of health needs in the county.

“Without an open discussion, nothing will change,” he told the crowd.

The town hall on Tuesday consisted of consumers, community leaders, organizations and providers, much like demographics of the CHNA.

Vanderhaar said the CNHA helps the community see trends, understand and evaluate the meaning of the numbers, identify what must be done to improve the low numbers and set topics and plans of actions for future discussions.

“The reason we are here is to think about improvements,” he said. “It is not just to hammer negative things or whatever it happens to be. We are going to be thinking outside of the box, what do we have to do to change or improve health along the way?”

Vanderhaar then shared with attendees the County Health Rankings based on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Health Institute.

The rankings compared Johnson County to average of 20 similar rural counties in the state, including itself.

The compared counties included Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Pike, Ralls, Shelby, Cass, Pettis, Lafayette, Henry, Benton, St. Clair, Bates, Vernon, Cedar, Clinton, DeKalb, Caldwell and Daviess.

In the categories of health outcomes (mortality and morbidity), health factors (health behaviors, clinical care and social and economic factors) and physical environment, Johnson County scored better than or close to the average of the 20-county average.

The complete 2019 results can be found at countyhealthrankings.org.

Vanderhaar then shared with attendees how the county compared to the rural average in the categories of demographic profile, economic/business profile, educational profile, maternal and infant health profile, hospitalization/providers profile, behavioral health profile, risk indicators and factors, uninsured profile, mortality profile and preventive quality measures.

As he went through the numbers, Vanderhaar had attendees write down what areas of concerns they had after seeing how the county compares to the state average and rural county average.

He then went through the results of the CHNA and had guests do the same thing.

Before the discussion began, Vanderhaar shared written responses from the CHNA.

The written concerns included the need for an expert in medications to help make sure one is not overmedicated and to help a patient determine what meds are dangerous together; mental healthcare needs to be better addressed; the wait time in the emergency rooms; the staffing in the emergency room; the need for dental healthcare for the uninsured and low income; suicide prevention and school drug programs; and the need for a dermatologist in the county.

After all the numbers were given, Vanderhaar challenged attendees to list the top strengths, areas for improvement and future changes in the community in regards to the health needs of the county.

The town hall identified the partnership of Whiteman Air Force Base, Western Missouri Medical Center and Johnson County Community Health; the access to services; obstetrics care; urgent/express care; the quality of the hospital; school health; the spirit of volunteers; exercise/activity opportunities; proximity to major metropolitan community; electronic medical records; first responders/emergency management; and Project Community Connect as strengths in regards to the health of the community.

Attendees then shared the areas they saw as needing improved and voted on which ones they saw as most pressing.

“You are representing our community when you vote here today,” Vanderhaar said.

Of the suggested areas of improvement, the following were seen as needing the most improvement: mental health (diagnosis, treatment and aftercare); homelessness; distracted driving (texting)/drunk driving; substance abuse (marijuana, heroin, opioids and meth); affordable healthcare insurance (uninsured and underinsured); and suicide prevention.

An analysis of the topics discussed at the meeting will be completed and a meeting will be scheduled for a later date to decide on implementing goals and to set standards for the next three years.

Managing Editor of Digital Publishing Derek Brizendine can be reached by emailing derek.brizendine@dsjnow.com, by calling (660) 747-8123 or on Twitter at @DerekBrizendine.

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