Overview of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network’s Participation in the Lehigh Valley’s Coordinated Community Health Needs Assessment
The HCCLV includes representation from The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network (GSRN), Lehigh Valley Health Network, Sacred Heart HealthCare System, St. Luke’s University Health Network, and KidsPeace Psychiatric Hospital. GSRN’s participation in the joint CHNA is primarily focused on addressing the needs of persons with disabilities and those with medical rehabilitation needs. The coordinated CHNA process provides the not-for-profit health care systems the opportunity to fulfill the requirement of Section 9007 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to perform a CHNA every three years commencing with a hospital’s first fiscal year after the Act became law. Participation in the coordinated CHNA process also enables each hospital to respond affirmatively to the CHNA-related questions listed under Schedule H, Part V, Section B of IRS Form 990 as revised in 2010.
The HCCLV’s coordinated CHNA process incorporated best practice standards recommended by the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Association for Community Health Improvement (ACHI). The HCCLV actively partnered with many stakeholders, community based organizations and community members in the process. The CHNA incorporated several health assessment strategies including an analysis of existing community health measures and secondary data as well as community input & engagement activities.
In November 2012, The Road to Health, an easy to navigate community health profile was made widely available to the public in both English and Spanish. The Road to Health tells a story of good health care for people with chronic disease who can access the Lehigh Valley’s health care systems, as demonstrated by the lower than average mortality rates. People in the Lehigh Valley are less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, lung disease, injuries, stroke and complications related to diabetes than average Pennsylvanians or Americans. The community health profile also tells the story of overall poor health, as demonstrated by the Lehigh Valley’s higher than average morbidity rates. The prevalence of the health issues listed above is greater in the Lehigh Valley than in Pennsylvania and United States. The region is apparently good at taking care of sick people. It needs to become better at preventing people from becoming ill.
Further data analysis showed that key factors influencing good health are lagging in the Lehigh Valley. These include access to wellness, preventive and primary care services, practicing healthy behaviors and avoiding unhealthy ones, social determinants and environmental factors.
The HCCLV shared and discussed secondary data findings with several key public and private health experts in the region via one-on-one interviews. Community leaders and representatives also took part in one-on-one and small group discussions Extensive Community-Based Participatory Research (C-BPR) dialogues were held in two federally-designated medically underserved areas of our region. Facilitated by national expert C-BP researchers, four 3-hour dialogues were held with 170 community leaders and members to discuss and prioritize health care findings and issues identified in the community health profile.
The findings from the secondary data analyses were strongly corroborated by community members and stakeholders, who listed mental health, oral health, health disparities, racism, poverty, unhealthy lifestyles, poor education and limited access to care as major barriers to health.
When it came to identifying an area where hospitals would share resources and work together on implementation strategies that would provide the most dramatic, demonstrable and sustained impact on the health of the Valley’s citizenry, the HCCLV decided to focus its members’ coordinated efforts on a smaller geographic area. Since all five hospital members in the HCCLV have a presence in the downtown Allentown area, and since this area demonstrated the greatest need based on key health data and social determinants, this area was selected as the Community Benefit Service Area for the HCCLV on which implementation strategies will be focused first.
On May 29, 2013, the Board of Trustees of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network passed a resolution adopting the joint Action Plan created by the HCCLV, and committing the Network to work cooperatively with the HCCLV members to design and implement appropriate tactics to support strategies that will impact priorities identified by the Community Health Needs Assessment process for the benefit of persons with disabilities and medical rehabilitation needs.