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Needs assessment to go before Phoebe Putney Hospital board

Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, presents a draft of a community needs assessment and implementation plan that has been drafted during the last several months to the hospital’s community benefits committee Thursday.

Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, presents a draft of a community needs assessment and implementation plan that has been drafted during the last several months to the hospital’s community benefits committee Thursday.

ALBANY — A community needs assessment and implementation plan that has been compiled over the course of more than a year is now set to be voted on by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s board in the coming weeks.

A draft of the needs assessment and the plan were presented to the hospital’s community benefits committee on Thursday, at which time the committee voted unanimously to send it to the hospital’s full board for final approval.

As part of a new requirement from the Internal Revenue Service, Phoebe has until the end of the fiscal year — which is July 31 — to complete a needs assessment and have it approved by the board.

“This is a culmination of a year-plus of work to assess needs and align services to meet those needs,” Committee Chair Ron Wallace said. “It is core to Phoebe’s mission that we meet those needs in the community.”

In order to get the needs assessment compiled, there were 33 key leaders interviewed and many more contacts were made from November 2011 onward that have allowed officials to define the priorities that need to be addressed in Phoebe’s primary coverage area.

“With each priority, we have discussed why they are important,” said Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy at Phoebe. “We have identified those priorities and where the gaps are in addressing them.”

The priorities outlined in the presentation Thursday were maternal and child health, mental health and substance abuse, obesity and related acute and chronic diseases, and health literacy, promotion and awareness.

“With mental health and substance abuse, there is very little in place for that,” Ryan said.

Among the concepts that have been instituted to address the prenatal aspect is Centering Pregnancy, a support and education effort that established a presence in Southwest Georgia in 2009 to help close the gap when it comes to health care access for expectant mothers.

Ryan said that, as part of the implementation, there are plans in the works to help the Southwest Public Health District along with this effort.

“We will help them with a research project they will conduct at Phoebe so they can establish a control group (to help better see how the program is working),” she said. “We will help facilitate that.

“... That’s how you determine how you meet those benchmarks.”

Babies with low birth weights, babies with very low birth weights, pre-term births, infant mortality rates, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease are among the things officials indicated they would be monitoring as part of the maternal and child health component, which officials said have targets currently set based on national benchmarks.

Ryan said that once the assessment and implementation plan are approved by the board, it is expected to be distributed to the public via Phoebe’s website, various government agencies, public libraries and as an attachment to the hospital’s Form 990.

Per the implementation plan, the grant-funding arm of the committee — Phoebe Community Visions — will begin to narrow the focus of its grant-giving to purposes that align directly with the needs identified in the assessment, officials say.