Several organizations have been working together the last several months
to create Duluth’s first ever collaborative Community Health Needs
Assessment (CHNA). A CHNA is a systematic examination of the health status
indicators for a given population, used to identify key problems and assets.
The federal requirement for nonprofit hospitals to complete a CHNA every
three years went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. St. Luke’s
and Essentia Health completed separate CHNAs the first go-round in 2013.
“However, the federal government strongly encourages health care
systems and public health to work together on needs assessments,”
explains Jessica Stauber, St. Luke’s director of marketing and business
planning. “We serve patients in the same community so it makes great
sense to work together to identify our community’s health needs
and work together to address them.”
Required to complete a CHNA every five years, St. Louis County Public Health
also sees the benefit of joining forces, along with Generations Health
Care Initiatives, a Duluth-based nonprofit committed to improving the
health of our community; the Carlton-Cook-Lake-St. Louis Community Health
Board, the four-county governing authority for local public health; and
Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community, a Duluth-based nonprofit working
for a connected, healthy community empowered to create and thrive. These
five organizations make up the charter members of Bridging Health Duluth.
Tony Cuneo, Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community‘s executive director,
says better health happens through collaboration. “To really control
health care costs and improve the health of people in our community, we
need to act outside the walls of doctors’ offices and hospitals.
Figuring out how we can make it easier to be healthy in our community
isn't just the right thing to do, it's important to our economic
and environmental future."
Members of this group and other healthcare leaders conducted the 2015 Bridge
to Health survey in late 2015, with results released at a regional conference
in April 2016. With the survey results in hand, Bridging Health Duluth
followed up with focus groups to further understand what the community
feels are the greatest health needs. Through the collaborative process,
more than 500 community members shared what is working to make Duluth
healthy – and what is not working. Themes emerged, including issues
with mental health care and access to healthy food.
“We look at what needs are identified in each community then come
up with a strategic plan to address those needs,” says Kayla Keigley,
Essentia Health’s program manager of community health. “It’s
a community-driven process focused on collaboration among public health
data, local surveys such as the Bridge to Health Survey, and community
In Duluth, the greatest needs identified are:
- Mental health
- Alcohol, drugs and tobacco use
- Socio-economic disparities based on race and neighborhood
The CHNA is now posted online at
slhduluth.com/CHNA. People are encouraged to reach out with comments or questions. A hard
copy of the CHNA is available by contacting 218.249.5117.
Bridging Health Duluth is currently working to develop an implementation
plan, which outlines goals, priority audiences, strategies and potential
partners for addressing each of the four areas of greatest need. This
plan will be published by November 15, 2016.