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Assessment identifies community health risks, needs

Dec. 1, 2016, 8:38 AM

What drives health in the greater Nashville area? How does infant mortality in Nashville compare with that of the rest of the state? Is someone in Rutherford County at greater risk to develop lung cancer than someone in Williamson County? What does the community believe are the greatest needs? Through the “Community Health Needs Assessment” (CHNA) process, Vanderbilt and other non-profit hospitals are attempting to answer these and other questions related to community health.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital recently adopted a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and Implementation Strategy (IS) for Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson counties, focusing on identifying and addressing local health needs, particularly for low-income, minority and underserved populations.

Led by Vanderbilt’s Institute for Medicine and Public Health, the 2016 CHNA explores the determinants of health, describes local health disparities and highlights community resources to address needs prioritized by the community.

The needs prioritized by the community and adopted by VUMC for the 2016 cycle are:

• Access to care/coordination of care
• Mental and emotional health/substance abuse
• Social determinants
• Wellness and disease prevention.

The CHNA highlights the health risks posed by problems such as rising childhood poverty (33 percent in Davidson County), homelessness and housing affordability and high rates of mental illness and substance abuse.

In fact, individual and population health are determined by many factors, the majority of which are outside of health care delivery.

Robert Dittus, M.D., Executive Vice President, Public Health and Health Care, leads the CHNA/IS process.

In addition to Dittus and the team from the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, the process is guided by an Advisory Committee of VUMC senior leaders representing VUMC’s three hospitals, Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital as well as Population Health, Marketing, Community Relations, Finance and Compliance and other areas.

Also, a committee of managers and directors who lead community programs participate in the VUMC Community Health Improvement Working Group, which provides input on both the process and relevant community initiatives outlined in the Implementation Strategy.

To learn more about the CHNA and IS and to view data and reports related to the process go to VUMC’s Community Health Improvement Platform. For questions about the CHNA/IS process contact Elisa Friedman at

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