In an effort to identify and address the most pressing regional health issues, Baptist Health Hardin Board of Directors recently approved and released the hospital’s 2022-2024 Community Health Needs Assessment and Strategic Implementation Plan, it was announced Thursday.
The first-year survey was developed by a 15-person committee consisting of local healthcare professionals, corporate leaders, education officials, and non-profit leaders, among others. An eight-person team of leaders at Baptist Health Hardin served as project facilitators.
The CHNA committee reviewed primary and secondary data, held discussions about the region’s top health concerns and collaborated on the production of the report. The committee then developed and distributed the public survey used to gather community input for the assessment, according to a news release.
Residents from counties in Baptist Health Hardin’s service region — Hardin, Meade, Nelson, Breckinridge, Bullitt, Grayson, Green, Hart, LaRue and Taylor — received the survey May 25-July 4. The survey was publicized locally and distributed by Lincoln Trail District Health Department, local schools, and other community groups such as Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.
There were 847 people to submit opinions. Baptist Health researchers and the LTDHD team overlayed findings with national, state and local survey data to verify results, the release stated.
The group identified four key areas that, if addressed and corrected, could dramatically improve community health:
• Smoking/vaping/lung cancer. According to the assessment, nine of the ten counties in Baptist Health Hardin’s service region have higher adult smoking rates than the average rate of Kentucky, a state known for having one of the highest smoking rates in the country.
In Hardin County, 38% of adults smoke. Tobacco use, as well as several of the known effects of tobacco use such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, were included in the top 10 health concerns in the community.
• Obesity. According to the assessment, only one county in Baptist Health Hardin’s service region had a lower rate of obesity than the Kentucky average, which is one of the highest in the nation.
• Mental health/substance abuse. More than 26% of those surveyed indicated they had high or very high levels of stress. Almost 18% rated their mental health as fair or unhealthy while 40% rated the mental health of the community as unhealthy or very unhealthy.
• Access to care. Seven of the ten counties in Baptist Health Hardin’s service area had much lower primary care and mental health provider ratios compared to the rates of Kentucky as a whole, according to the assessment.
According to the release, committee members and facilitators not only want to identify the top problems, but also devote considerable effort to address possible solutions. The strategic implementation plan currently in development includes Baptist Health Hardin’s existing efforts, and new ideas the committee, hospital and community can implement to help improve the community’s overall health.
“Our regional growth and economic development successes make living in central Kentucky so exciting,” said Dennis Johnson, Baptist Health Hardin’s president. “The men and women on our first community health committee worked hard to help us identify the health concerns that can hold us back. Their work will serve as a roadmap to help us work together to make our region healthier.”
Jamie Sizemore, executive director of Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland and member of the CHNA committee, said the release of the report is just the beginning of a long-term collaborative plan to address healthcare needs in the community.
“This assessment pulls together existing and new data, and it provides new energy and opportunity to partner with Baptist Health Hardin and other organizations to establish pragmatic solutions for our region’s greatest barriers,” said Sizemore.
Baptist Health Hardin and FAKH began exploring a new project aimed to reach under-resourced seniors, families with children and all adults who have many barriers preventing an active and healthy lifestyle. These clients and their families are served by FAKH partner agencies.
In an effort to provide increased access to care, Baptist Health Hardin’s community health nurses will be on-hand for food distributions scheduled in the hospital’s 10-county region. An initial event was at Hardin County Helping Hand of Hope and clients had access to blood pressure screenings, glucose checks and more when they were served by the food pantry.
“Our first survey may be complete, but this committee’s work to make central Kentuckians healthier is just beginning,” said Johnson. The group will continue to meet over the next three years until the next survey is due to track progress and implement change.
To view the CHNA and the SIP, go to baptisthealth.com/hardin/about/ community-health-needs -assessment.