Mental health and substance abuse services still rank as high areas of unmet need in the region served by Wayne Memorial Health System and Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers, according to their latest Community Health Needs Assessment survey.

The findings, published on Wayne Memorial’s website www.wmh.org, also point to a need for services that might help people avoid unnecessary and costly hospital and Emergency Department care.

The Community Health Needs Assessment, the fourth completed by Wayne Memorial since 2010, included for the first time questions about social determinants of health, such as transportation, income, employment, food, housing and other physical and environmental data.

The 2019 survey consisted of an online questionnaire, completed by 950 area individuals, as well as 43 one-on-one interviews with community stakeholders including patients, government officials, human service agency leaders and school district officials. The assessment was facilitated by HMS Associates, a New York based consulting company, and overseen by an Advisory Committee made up of 25 local representatives.

“We were particularly impressed with the number of community partners who gave their time to serve on our Advisory Committee refining the survey and encouraging individuals within their own industries to complete it,” stated Jack Dennis, executive director, Wayne Memorial Health Foundation. “This is the type of strong collaboration that gives us a direct line to the answers we’re seeking.”

Unlike earlier surveys, this assessment also included questions geared toward specific populations such as youth and adolescents. The results, coupled with the information gleaned from the social determinants questions, will aid Wayne Memorial as it moves forward in the Rural Health Model program.

Under this program, major healthcare payers including Medicare and Medicaid, plus four private insurers, have agreed to pay participating hospitals a fixed amount annually instead of when the service is rendered.  In addition to providing hospitals more financial security with a steady income, Wayne Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer David Hoff said savings should be generated to invest in more preventive care and education. 

 “This Community Health Needs Assessment will greatly aid our efforts in the Rural Health Model program,” said Hoff. “Identifying social factors that play a big role in a patient’s ability to access affordable health care will be instrumental in helping us plan for the future.” Wayne Memorial is one of only five hospitals in the state participating in the Rural Health Model.

Earlier surveys led to the establishment of a cardiac catheterization laboratory at the hospital, a support group for grandparents raising grandchildren and the launch of a Tick-borne Disease Wellness Center in Pike County.

Besides having their voices heard, people who completed the survey were also invited to enter a drawing for one of five $100 gift cards.

“We are incredibly grateful to each and every person who shared their insights through completing the survey,” state Hoff. “The response from our community to be active participants is this assessment has always been positive and remains a key to its success.”