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COLUMBUS – A full house on Monday took the pulse of the health status of the population in the four-county East Central District Health Department to measure progress and continued the work to toward more improvements.

East Central, along with a coalition of hospitals in each of Platte, Colfax, Nance and Boone counties, presented the results of the area’s third Comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment to a packed room at Columbus Community Hospital.

Hospital officials had to open up a second room to accommodate those attending from the fields of health care, law enforcement, local and county government and members of the general public are charged with identifying areas of improvement and targeting factors that contribute to health issues.

The community assessment is the foundation for what will become the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), based on approximately 20 sources of data that has been compiled in three-year cycles since 2012.

The health priorities contained in the 2018 assessment include access to health care, mental health, youth and adult alcohol and tobacco abuse, obesity and physical activity.

Michael Hansen has witnessed the progress made in the last decade.

The president and chief executive officer of Columbus Community Hospital watched as access to health care services expanded over that span as efforts were made to broaden physician recruitment and improve barriers to transportation.

Since 2009, the community has has added a taxi service and a clinic for cancer treatment opted to begin a van service that helps patients get to and from health care appointments, Hansen said.

Meanwhile, the hospital executive said, CCH has joined in a physician recruitment effort that has resulted in about 100 health care professionals coming to the community. The community has been on the cutting edge of access, especially in the area of pediatric care, he said.

“It’s been exciting to see,” Hansen said.

The assessment this year has been updated and revised for the last three years to offer communities up-to-date data to evaluate progress made towards identified health priorities, and for the selection of new ones.

The assessment includes input from diverse groups of community members that includes adults, ethnic groups and community agencies. Community input came from nearly 500 written surveys, three community meetings, four youth focus groups and five adult focus groups (three English and two Hispanic/Latino).

Those who attended Monday’s session set goals for CHIP, establishing priorities of need, developing action plans, developing implementation strategies on how the community plans to meet the highest priority health needs, defining resources and strategies to meet needs and identifying impacts.

The groups organized Monday will issue a report in six months on ways to attack the community’s health issues.



Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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