Working together for community health improvement
June 5–11 is Community Health Improvement Week; a time we can honor the people working to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities.
Improving health and wellness in our community takes collaboration and commitment. The past two years have put a spotlight on the importance of community partnerships, with organizations working together to provide regional COVID education, prevention, treatment, and support.
Barton is committed to providing high-quality care and staying focused on the most pressing health needs of our community. Surveying, through the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment, continues to show our area’s top three health concerns as mental health, substance abuse, and access to care. These are concerns that persist in the Lake Tahoe community, as well as nationwide, and take collaboration to address.
Barton works cooperatively with regional health and social service providers to address and improve these complex health concerns. Together, we will continue to make progress to provide critical care in these areas.
Mental and behavioral health
Providing increased services for mental and behavioral health is a challenge nationwide, but locally, the Behavioral Health Network, an alliance of local social service providers, partnered with UniteUs to provide a referral platform to help patients in need of behavioral health services connect with care providers. In a similar approach, Barton continues to virtually connect Medicare and Medicaid patients with local mental health providers through a $100,000 Health Net grant.
Through community outreach, including community wellness lectures, articles, and videos, medical experts educate community members to recognize the signs, learn how and when to seek help, and understand how to reach out to others who might be experiencing a mental health crisis.
Additionally, the Barton Foundation has provided $100,000 in annual grant funding to support local organizations that help address health issues identified in the CHNA, including mental and behavioral health.
The Medication-Assisted Treatment program launched in 2019 and continues with 18 X-waivered physicians who can prescribe suboxone, treating over 110 patients to date. MAT is the use of medication in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, proven effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders, helping people begin and sustain recovery.
The 2021 CHNA survey reported that opioid prescriptions decreased significantly from 22% in 2018 to 16% in 2021, largely due to education and system-wide protocols that lowered opioid prescriptions, while offering alternative pain management methods, when possible. In fact, Cal Hospital Compare listed Barton Memorial Hospital on their 2021 Opioid Care Honor Roll with a ‘Superior Performance,’ recognizing Barton’s advanced, innovative opioid stewardship strategies.
Barton Foundation annual grant funding was awarded to South Tahoe Middle School’s Club Live to educate students on the dangers of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, in addition to the Tahoe Alliance for Safe Kids to assist prevention and reduction of substance abuse among young people in the community.
Additionally, preventative education for local students includes the annual Drug Store Project event educating 6th grade students on the risks of substance use.
Access to care
In the past year, Barton added a new gastroenterologist and two new OB/GYN physicians, in addition to a plastic/reconstructive and a foot/ankle orthopedic surgeon. Barton continues to recruit new medical providers and add services to meet the growing needs of our community.
Additionally, Barton is one of the first hospitals in the Lake Tahoe and Carson City areas to offer Mako SmartRobotics, a robotic system that enables orthopedic surgeons to have a more predictable knee and hip joint replacement surgical experience with increased precision and accuracy, resulting in better outcomes for patients.
During a free blood pressure clinic, Barton provided 47 blood pressure monitors while educating participants of the risks of hypertension, how to use the monitors, and lifestyle changes which can reduce hypertension.
Community health and collaboration is foundational to Barton’s mission. We are proud to serve our community and we have immense gratitude for the commitment of the partners involved in this effort, and look forward to together creating a healthier community.
Chris Proctor is the Director of Community Benefit with Barton Health. To learn more about Barton Health’s Community Health Needs Assessments, visit bartonhealth.org/communityhealth.
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