Following a community prioritization exercise to identify the most pressing community health needs facing Polk County, two separate hospital boards of trustees agreed to combine efforts to make a greater impact in addressing them.
Both Winter Haven Hospital, Inc. and Bartow Regional Medical Center are required to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years as established by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The ACA also requires the assessment process to include input from persons who represent the community, and for the hospitals to adopt an implementation strategy.
This is Bartow Regional’s first community assessment as a result of its acquisition by BayCare in 2016. The ACA only requires assessments and implementation plans from hospitals that qualify as a charitable organization under IRS regulations.
“We recognize that the forthcoming implementation plan requires collaboration and resources county-wide in order to be effective,” said Brian Hinton, BRMC’s Board Chairman and CEO of the Bartow Consulting Group. “Our collective service areas reach from one side of the county to the other, so it really is in the best interest of the county for BRMC and WHH to work together on the strategy to meet the needs.”
BayCare began collecting data from Polk residents to determine health needs earlier this year. Data was collected using:
On August 8, the survey and secondary data were presented to a diverse group of community leaders and health care experts. More than 80 participants reviewed and discussed the data, then based on scope and severity as well as the ability of a hospital to impact need, ranked the most pressing health needs currently facing our county. The top three needs were:
The prioritization results were presented to the BRMC Board of Trustees on August 23 along with the proposal for a joint implementation plan; presentation and proposal to WHH’s Board was on August 28. Over the next few weeks, BayCare will consult community partners to strategize the best methods in addressing the top health priorities. The joint implementation plan will need approval by each hospital’s board, with the expectation to begin implementing on January 1, 2019.