Prioritizing area health needs

Published 3:02 pm Thursday, February 28, 2019

The first of three meetings was held Tuesday afternoon to implement the results of the 2018-2021 Farmville Area Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) developed by community partners and headed by Centra Health.

The assessment was recently approved by the four Centra Health board of directors.

Participants at the meeting, held at Hampden-Sydney College’s Crawley Forum, addressed the findings of the assessment and determined five top priorities in which to focus.

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After an activity and discussion, the approximately 30 community representatives decided to prioritize Access to Health Care; Access to Mental Health Services, which includes resources for substance use; Access to Affordable Housing; Transportation; and Access to Healthy Foods.

The five goals were among the top 10 needs ranked as a result of the study.

The top 10 health assessment needs identified, according to the assessment, includes access to affordable health care; access to healthy foods; access to affordable housing; diabetes care; access to mental health service and care for mental health issues; substance use; overweight or obesity; transportation; poverty; and poor eating habits.

Those who attended included representatives of STEPS, Prince Edward and Buckingham Department of Social Services, Cumberland County government, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Centra Southside Community Hospital, Piedmont Senior Resources Area Agency on Aging, the Virginia Department of Health Piedmont Health District, Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity, FACES Food Pantry, Prince Edward and Cumberland County Public Schools, Fuqua School, United Way, natural pHuel of Farmville, Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and Twin Lakes State Park among others.

Sharon Harrup

Sharon Harrup, member of the Centra Southside Community Hospital board, thanked community partners for their work to develop the assessment, which was completed in June 2018.

The core team for the assessment consisted of Centra Southside Community Hospital, Dr. Robert Nash with the Piedmont Health District and Bill Varner with United Way of Central Virginia, according to a release from Centra Health.

“I would put our region up against any other region in the state,” Harrup said. “Most of us come to the table with limited resources for our organizations and our businesses, but how we’re able to collaboratively focus our efforts on things that are important to us, I think makes us superstars.”

Nash spoke and described the goals that unifies the participants. He noted that the seven counties that make up the Piedmont Health District, including Prince Edward, Buckingham and Cumberland are among the poorest in the state.

“Everybody in this room is representing an agency and group of people who are completely dedicated to providing health care equity and improving the health of our community,” Nash said.

During the meeting, participants took part in a break-out sessions. Groups of seven or eight people sat at tables, determining which three priorities were most important, who the priorities should impact, and who else in the community should participate in implementing these priorities.

After the breakout session, each table presented their top three priorities. If there were differing priorities, the group would have to present a case for why that priority should be considered.

Consultant Pat Young said the meeting was a way for community partners to come together and seek solutions. The goal of implementing the Farmville Area Health Needs Assessment is to strengthen resources that are already in the area, rather than look for new ones.

“As a collective, we’re able to move social change in a way that we can’t do if we stay in our silos,” Young said.

The decision to choose the priorities created some debate among community representatives, as they worked to determine which priorities would be the most feasible over the three-year period the assessment covers.

Community Access Network representative Lisa Taylor described the implementation plan as small steps toward solutions to problems that have taken generations to develop.

Young and Taylor said that the Farmville area contained the smallest group, but had the most priorities. The Bedford and Lynchburg areas, which also conducted studies headed by Centra Health, each chose three priorities.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26. The location has not yet been determined.