Schneck uncovers the community’s greatest health needs

The results of the study are in

Major health issues in the area were identified through the Schneck Medical Center’s 2021 Public Health Needs Assessment.

During a recent board meeting at Seymour Hospital, Kathy Covert, vice president of workforce and support services, said the issues to be addressed between 2022 and 2024 are drug use and drug abuse , mental health treatment and facilities, affordable healthcare, tobacco use and cessation, obesity and access to food.

At the end of her presentation, she asked for approval of the assessment implementation plan and the board gave the OK.

So what’s next?

“We will continue to work with community partners to address these specific areas,” Covert said, adding that the community health needs assessment will be made available on the hospital’s website. “That way, people can see results from focus groups, surveys and secondary data.”

Prioritized health care needs will also be integrated into Schneck’s next strategic plan, which will run from 2023 to 2025, Covert said.

“There is already work in these priority areas from both Schneck and other organizations within the community that may be working on these issues as well,” she said. “The board will receive progress updates each year so we can report back on what we or others in the community are doing to address these issues through partnerships.”

The assessment is done every three years to help Schneck better understand and address major health and wellness issues in the area, which includes Jackson, Jennings, Scott and Washington counties.

“Community engagement is critical to developing strategies and goals to improve the health of our communities,” said Dr. Eric Fish, president and CEO of Schneck, in 2021, when the hospital encouraged the community to participate in the confidential survey on health and well-being. “Part of assessing the health needs of community members is getting their feedback.”

People can complete the survey on Schneck’s website,, on social media channels or via hard copies.

For this cycle, Covert said Schneck partnered with the Indiana Rural Health Association to complete the process.

The association’s methodology begins with focus groups involving business owners, local governments, providers, clergy and health department officials to talk about the health-related needs of the community and identify the biggest problem areas.

“From these focus group meetings, a survey is always developed that goes out to the wider community to say about these types of issues, talk to us, the community, about what your biggest concerns are,” Covert said.

Schneck looks at qualitative and quantitative data, including secondary data sources that would supplement focus groups and surveys, to validate what the community says are issues.

Then, once the results of all that data are analyzed, the hospital prioritizes its areas of focus and develops goals around them, Covert said.

There are three goals.

“First, you want to improve the health status of the residents in the area, help them live longer and appreciate the overall quality of life,” Covert said. “The second goal is to reduce health disparities among residents by looking at different demographics, identifying those who are at the highest health risk in dealing with these things and any disparities that may exist.” The third goal is to increase access to preventive services for all community residents.

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