Tri-State health leaders set new public goals

Tri-State health leaders set new public goals
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Every three years, Tri-State health leaders come together to discuss what the area is facing and how they are meeting its needs.

The meeting was part of the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment. It had two main functions – to review how well they have met their previous goal, and to set new goals that reflect the area’s current needs.

The area holds the assessment and determines its new initiatives every three years. This year, the group decided their new priorities would be mental and behavioral health; exercise, weight and nutrition; maternal and child health; and access to care. Officials say such lofty goals require everyone’s help.

“There’s no one organization or entity in the community that has the ability to really impact all these different priorities, so working together really allows us to leverage the array of resources that we have as a community and point those resources most effectively at the places where we can have the greatest impact,” said Deaconess Physicians Division President Dr. James Porter.

The meeting included representatives from Deaconess, Ascension St. Vincent, the Vanderburgh County Health Department, Easterseals Rehabilitation Center and more.

Officials from Deaconess say their efforts have been shaped by COVID-19. The pandemic absorbed so much of their time they had fewer resources to use elsewhere.

On the other hand, some officials say COVID-19 also opened people’s eyes to the importance of things like mental health.

“I think there has been this undercurrent of ‘it’s okay to not be okay,’ and it’s okay to talk about those issues and seek help, and that’s definitely been a positive repercussion of COVID,” said Easterseals Community Outreach VP Emily Reidford.

Mental health is one focus item that’s been a part of each assessment since they started. Officials say this motivates them to try new approaches.

“It just highlights the fact that they aren’t things there are easy fixes to,” said Porter. “They’re things we have to continually focus on as a healthcare community and partner with other organizations to be able to find new ways to address them.”

Community Health Needs Assessments are a required part of the Affordable Care Act, and the area has been holding them since 2013.

To learn more about the area’s current health goals, visit the Deaconess and Ascension St. Vincent websites.

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