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Community needs assessment ongoing

Ron Wallace, chair of the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital community benefits subcommitte, left, makes a point at the group’s meeting Monday while Mary Helen Dykes and Mark Lane listen. The group is currently working to have a community needs plan implemented some time next year.

Ron Wallace, chair of the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital community benefits subcommitte, left, makes a point at the group’s meeting Monday while Mary Helen Dykes and Mark Lane listen. The group is currently working to have a community needs plan implemented some time next year.

ALBANY, Ga. -- A subcommittee at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital devoted to looking at how to prioritize community benefit dollars is moving forward with the process of collecting data and talking to key leaders in order to best determine where needs are.

At the subcommittee's most recent meeting on Monday, the body was updated on that process.

Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy at Phoebe, talked about a seminar held on Aug. 9 for interested parties to learn what Phoebe Community Visions -- the grant-funding arm of the subcommittee -- will be looking for during the grant application process and what the expectations will be for funding.

Forty-eight participants attended the seminar, Ryan said.

"The room was full. We had to bring in chairs," she said.

The grants in question, set to be given to various agencies as a means of addressing health-related needs, is beginning an application cycle, with applications due Sept. 14. Another grant cycle will be conducted in the spring, with the deadline for those applications set for March 15, Ryan said.

In the meantime, officials are conducting interviews with community leaders to help better determine where priorities ought to be. Some of the needs cited during interviews so far have included adolescent psychariatic services, dental health, teen pregnancy and fatherhood, among others, according to Mark Miller, an analyst with Phoebe.

Interviews are expected to be complete by November, Miller said.

"Besides looking at data, we are talking to folks to get their perspective (on what the issues are) and what they think is our biggest need," said Ron Wallace, chair of the subcommittee. "We call on agencies to give their take, so we are not just using data from a computer."

As part of a new requirement from the Internal Revenue Service, the hospital has until July 31 of next year to complete a community needs assessment. As part of the process, Phoebe officials say, a team is actively engaged in crunching the necessary data that will -- along with the interviews -- bring such an assessment together to the hospital's full board by that deadline.

Such data include information on demographics, health status indicators and health disparity indicators from the region, as well as other areas.

"Over the next few months, we will be in data-crunching mode and begin the process of writing a plan," Ryan said. "I would like to come back to the committee and let you see (where we are)."

Once the assessment is in place, the grants will be aligned to meet the established needs, officials say.