Lancaster Physician Fall 2021 - 30

L A N CA S TERMED I CALSO C IET Y. O R G
Perspectives
access to the services and resources they need,
but we had to kick that into high gear when the
pandemic hit. "
In-person appointments with practitioners
shifted to telehealth visits, and people needing
food could visit drive-through or walk-up centers
to pick up packed food instead of coming into a
food pantry. Recognizing that not everyone had
access to the technology necessary for telehealth,
Nixon's staff worked diligently with the IT staff
to assure as many people as possible could take
advantage of that option.
When vaccines became available, UPMC took
and administered them to homebound patients.
Staff went out of its way to provide services that
could help prevent emergency room visits.
" The needs of the community haven't changed,
but the way we need to address those needs has, "
said Nixon.
As communities change it is imperative that
systems continue to adjust, staff members understand
the cultures of those they are serving, and
all groups of community members are included
in services, Nixon explained.
She spoke of the need for community health
assessments to include members of the LGBTQ
community, who due to risk of facing discrimination,
tend to delay seeking treatment until
they are very sick.
" So we need to ask 'how can we better treat
you?' " Nixon said.
As other nonprofit hospitals, UPMC is working
on the CNHA it will release in 2022. Along with
mental health and access to care, the system has
identified needs including affording housing
and others. All those needs are being addressed
through programs such as school health screenings,
insurance enrollment guidance, home-visit
programs, community education and screening,
and programs such as " Eat Smart, Play Smart "
and the Energy Pack initiative.
" Again, it's the belief in meeting people where
they are and listening to what community members
tell us, " Nixon explained. " It's about doing the
right thing for people who are in need. "
" That is such an important area. We're thinking
health equity should be its own priority, " said Visco.
WellSpan, LG Health, and UPMC share a data
platform powered by Conduent Healthy Communities
Institute, Batchelor explained, which
enables them to stay current with newly released
data reflecting community health trends. That
LANCASTER 30
PHYSICIAN
ASHLEY VISCO
Penn State Health
The health needs of a community
can be complicated and
often overlap, requiring health
systems to address multiple
issues as they relate to each other.
That, according to Ashley Visco, Penn State
Health community health director, is the
approach Penn State Health is employing as it
works to complete its 2022 community health
needs assessment.
" You can't impact one of the categories identified
in the CHNA without addressing the others, "
Visco explained. " You can't address the need for
getting exercise if someone doesn't feel safe being
outside in their neighborhood. "
Penn State Health works to assess need in Lancaster,
Dauphin, Berks, Cumberland, Lebanon,
and Perry counties. Relatively new to Lancaster
County, the health system relies on contacts with
free clinics, community centers, food pantries,
the Spanish-American Civic Association, and
others, and uses surveys and email questionnaires
to obtain information.
" The reality is that the people who run these
organizations know the community better than
we do, " she said. " I can't possibly know everything
about six different counties. I need to rely on these
community partners. "
Normally, Visco shared, needs within the six
counties included in Penn State Health's CHNA
are similar, with many areas of overlap.
" We don't see a huge difference among the
counties surveyed, " she said.
In its last CHNA, Penn State Health identified
its priorities as behavioral health, an area including
mental health and substance abuse; healthy lifestyle,
encompassing physical health, oral health,
and nutrition; and disease management, specifically
looking at diabetes, cardiovascular disease,
and cancer. The current CHNA again is focusing
on mental health while also stressing health equity.
Once priorities have been identified, Penn State
Health sets short, medium, and long-term goals for
addressing them. Representatives meet quarterly to
assess the progress that has been made and issue a
report card to measure that progress once a year.
" The survey is required once every three years
but we are assessing these issues constantly, " Visco
explained. " We believe it is our obligation to be
aware of community health needs and to do what
we can as a health care system to help. That's why
we need to stay engaged in order to have a pulse
on what's going on. "
Working with both rural and urban populations
during the pandemic helped bring health
equity issues to the forefront. Penn State Health
partnered with the other health systems that serve
Lancaster County to focus on getting COVID
testing and vaccines to every resident who needed
them, especially in hard-to-reach locations. The
health organizations worked together to get food
to people who were in quarantine and provide
other services, as needed.
" That was a great collaboration of all the health
organizations that serve Lancaster County, " said
Visco. " We hope those types of collaborations will
continue as Penn State Health becomes increasingly
involved in Lancaster County. "
WellSpan Health
While WellSpan Health
STEVE
BATCHELOR
partners with other health
care systems, including Penn
Medicine Lancaster General
Health and UPMC, to assess
and address community health
needs, it also conducts its own community health
needs assessment (CHNA) of a five-county region
that spans southcentral Pennsylvania and places
focus on northern Lancaster County.
That two-pronged approach, according to Steve
Batchelor, regional director for WellSpan Community
Health and Wellness, enables WellSpan
to align its community health efforts with those of
other health care systems, while also focusing on the
WellSpan footprint in the communities it serves.

Lancaster Physician Fall 2021

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