South Lake Tahoe to undergo a complete physical

Rebecca Wass
For the Tribune

Barton Health and other community organizations and businesses have joined forces to give South Lake Tahoe and its surrounding areas a complete physical.

“For years, healthcare has been focused on treating individuals. If we are going to create a healthcare system that is right for our area, we need to broaden that focus to the entire community,” said Monica Sciuto, community health needs assessment lead coordinator and director of public relations at Barton Health. “This project will help us accomplish that.”

The process, known as a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), consists of gathering information about the health status of residents on three levels: in-depth discussion groups; an area-wide telephone survey; and collection of state, county and national health data. Barton, in collaboration with other non-profit and governmental agencies in the South Lake Tahoe area will be implementing the federally required CHNA. This extensive project aims to identify major health risks, disease incidence and service needs of residents of South Lake Tahoe and its surrounding communities.

“We plan to identify and address barriers and health gaps that relate to healthcare, including preventative care and quality-of-life,” Sciuto said.

Healthcare reform is changing the landscape for healthcare providers and patients. The CHNA is a large part of healthcare reform. In March of 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care and Health Care Act (PPACA) and the Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (amendment the PPACA Act) were both signed by President Barack Obama. This law serves as the primary basis for healthcare reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress.

“The Affordable Care Act requires all non-profit hospitals, such as Barton, to conduct a CHNA every three years,” Sciuto said. “The value in a project like this cannot be underestimated, as it helps Barton and other health focused community groups identify health gaps within our community.”

Beginning in March, 400 phone interviews will take place. Each phone interview will take approximately 20 minutes. Phone surveys will be conducted by random selection and be held with adults ages 18 and older in both English and Spanish.

“Twenty minutes is a bit of time out of someone’s day and we greatly appreciate our community members for taking the time to assist,” Sciuto said. “As healthcare providers, it is our duty to make every attempt to provide accessible and affordable healthcare services and we are looking to our patient population to help us in identifying these needs.”

Sciuto also said Barton will hold focus groups and work alongside community agencies to gather additional elemental data for the health assessment.

“We would love the full participation of community residents. If you are contacted to take part in this project, we urge you to make an effort to participate. This information is vital to the health of you, your family and your neighbors.”

Full results from the CHNA will be available to the public by late summer. Barton will have the information posted online as well as hold a town hall meeting to share the results and action plan.

“This project gives our public the opportunity to share information – allowing Barton, and our community partners, to set goals while improving the health status of each individual – hence a “complete physical,” she explained. “After we identify the key issues, we will look into supporting new and established health programs and services for South Lake Tahoe.”

– Rebecca Wass is with the Barton Health Public Relations Department.

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