142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Role of community health centers in assessing community needs

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 12:30 PM - 12:50 PM

Valerie Polletta, MS , Research and Evaluation Department, Health Resources in Action, Inc., Boston, MA
Anthony Stankiewicz, Esq. , Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester, MA
Sandra Cotterell , Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester, MA
Steve Ridini , Health Resources in Action, Inc., Boston, MA
Background: Health centers play a critical role in serving medically underserved populations.  According to the first of 19 Health Resources and Services Administration health center program requirements, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) must assess the needs of their target population.  However, there are limited specifications regarding the process for conducting this assessment.  This presentation will describe an urban FQHC’s approach to conducting a community health needs assessment that maximized existing institutional and community resources. 

Codman Square Health Center (CSHC) is a FQHC located in an underserved neighborhood of Boston, MA where residents are disproportionately affected by several health indicators.  The health center serves over 20,000 patients each year and provides comprehensive services including primary care, urgent care, dental care, eye care, behavioral health, public health, fiscal health, fitness/wellness and youth programming through partnerships. In 2013, the health center undertook an assessment to ensure that it was addressing the most pressing health concerns of its target population.

Approach: The assessment utilized a participatory, collaborative approach to examine health in its broadest context.  Guided by the social determinants of health framework, the process included synthesizing existing data on social, economic, and health indicators among the health center’s patient population and the broader underserved community. Additionally, over 200 participants were engaged via a health center staff survey (n=133), community dialogue (n=30), four focus groups (n=39), and eleven interviews (n=12) to gauge perceptions of community needs and assets.  Participants represented multiple audiences, including health center staff and patients, the faith community, the civic community, government officials, educational leaders, social service providers, health care providers, and community leaders, among others.

Lessons Learned: While quantitative indicators provided a social and economic context of health, qualitative methods created an opportunity to hear the community voice regarding pertinent health issues.  Furthermore, qualitative research addressed limitations presented by quantitative data, such as availability, timeliness, and geographic specificity. In addition to community members, engaging health center board members and staff was crucial for subsequent planning efforts to address assessment findings.

This presentation will discuss the overall process employed by a health center to conduct a community health needs assessment, as well as identify the challenges and successes of engaging stakeholders and gathering data at the neighborhood level using limited resources.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe an urban community health center's approach to assessing community needs Identify challenges and successes of conducting a community health needs assessment from a community health center perspective

Keyword(s): Community Health Assessment, Community Health Centers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was involved in all aspects of conducting the community health assessment, including stakeholder engagement and data collection and analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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