All Intermountain hospitals completed Community Health Needs Assessments last year in collaboration with local health departments and community input to determine the significant health needs of vulnerable people in our communities. The assessments are conducted every three years by Intermountain. They consider factors such as affordability of care, our mission and strategy, and feedback from our stakeholders.
“We invest considerable effort in conducting our assessments because they strengthen our ability to realize our mission,” said Mikelle Moore, senior vice president and chief community health officer. “We’ve met with stakeholders and analyzed current health status information to identify significant health needs in our communities, which have shaped our goals and strategies.”
The three community health needs Intermountain will focus on through 2022 include:
- Improving mental well-being. This was the number one priority identified by every community. The barriers include high demand and lack of access to providers, depression and suicide in all ages, social isolation, and chronic illness. Substance use disorders—specifically opioid misuse—continue to be a high priority. The social determinants of health—nonmedical factors that can affect health, like housing instability or chronic hunger—are major causes of poor mental health. Income disparity is specifically related to mental well-being.
Intermountain will focus on reducing suicide rates, reducing access to lethal means of suicide, strengthening connections to crisis services, expanding behavioral health provider networks, increasing telehealth efforts, and addressing barriers that create social isolation. Efforts to reduce opioid misuse and addiction will include naloxone distribution and a reduction in high-risk medication prescribing.
- Preventing avoidable disease and injury like prediabetes, high blood pressure, lack of immunizations, and unintentional injury deaths. Chronic conditions related to obesity, such as diabetes and poor heart health, continue to be the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. In addition, unintentional injuries and suicides have been the leading cause of child injury deaths in Utah and Idaho for the last decade.
The goals are to increase immunization rates and decrease prediabetes rates, high blood pressure rates, and accidental injury deaths. Intermountain will focus on community-based screenings, chronic disease self-management classes, physical activity and nutrition, and addressing factors related to the social determinants of health.
- Improving air quality. This is a huge need because air pollution makes every illness worse and can aggravate respiratory infections, trigger asthma attacks and symptoms, and cause temporary reduction in lung capacity. It can increase instances of low birth weight, premature birth, and infant mortality, as well as certain forms of childhood cancers, especially leukemia.
Intermountain’s overall goal is to decrease the number of bad-air days in our communities. As an organization we’re developing strategies to decrease emissions, such as reduced idling of fleet vehicles, conversion of fleet vehicles to electric as leases expire, increasing the number of charging stations for electric vehicles driven by caregivers and the public, promoting the use of virtual meetings, developing standard telework policies and guidelines, and encouraging the use of public transit.