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The Importance of Community Needs Assessments

by | Nov 22, 2019 | Hospital News

Prior to becoming the CEO at North Texas Medical Center, I spent the previous 13 years of my career working in bigger cities for larger for-profit hospitals. While I enjoyed the career growth and progress I experienced there, I feel that my obligation and commitment to the success of the community and hospital is much stronger here. Some that know me well might assume this could be attributed to my small-town Texas roots. I grew up in an area like this, so it is not surprising that Gainesville, Lake Kiowa and the rest of Cooke County feel more like home to me than any of the previous destinations ever did. 

While that may be a part of the reason, the biggest factor driving me to ensure North Texas Medical Center continues to thrive is because this community absolutely NEEDS the hospital to be successful. Without North Texas Medical Center, our neighbors suffering from time-sensitive conditions such as stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sepsis and acute heart conditions would have a higher rate of mortality. Without North Texas Medical Center, our ambulance services would be less available in our community while they transported patients 30 plus miles away to receive the appropriate medical care. Without North Texas Medical Center, over 240 of our friends and relatives would have to look for work outside the area and the economic impact would extend beyond just those employed at the hospital. Health Services Research published a study that gave the following account of the economic effect due to a closure of a rural hospital has on the local economy, “As those directly affected become unemployed, they spend less, threatening the employment of others. All told, when a hospital closes, per capita income in its community declines by 4% and the unemployment rate rises 1.6 percentage points.”

Thankfully, due to the hard work and dedication of many, North Texas Medical Center is in a much better situation than it was a just a few short years ago. Our quality indicators and patient satisfaction scores continue to improve and the amount of people entrusting us to take care of their medical needs have increased accordingly. In fact, as I write this article today, the hospital census climbed to a number that has not been seen in ten years. The improved volume has led to a stable financial future and that financial stability allows us to not only continue providing our core services, but also to look for opportunities to expand our offerings to better meet the community’s needs.

When it comes to assessing what services we offer, one of the tools we utilize is the Community Health Needs Assessment. Conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment is a regulatory requirement for all not‐for‐profit 501(c)(3) hospitals like North Texas Medical Center. It is a systematic process that involves members of the community to help us identify, analyze, prioritize and plan and act upon unmet community health needs. In addition to identifying what services are needed, we will specifically focus on finding solutions to access barriers and other issues that prevent the population from obtaining services that are currently available.

In the coming months, North Texas Medical Center will be seeking out a diverse group of key stakeholders who understand the community’s needs and are willing to provide advice to be incorporated in the overall strategy of the hospital. To ensure we obtain input that accurately reflects the needs of the community, we will look to include representatives from the local public health departments as well members of medically underserved, low‐income, and minority populations in our primary service area. 

When the Community Health Needs Assessment is finalized, it will contain:

  • The definition and demographics of the community served
  • The health status of the community served
  • The methodology including sources
  • A summary of the qualitative findings
  • A list of any significant health needs of the community served
  • An analysis of any existing health assessment reports for the community(ies) served
  • A description of process for identifying and prioritizing areas of need and services to meet the identified health needs
  • A description and listing of additional health services or resources available in the community to address the prioritized needs
  • The impact of any actions taken to address the significant health needs identified in the prior Community Health Needs Assessment
  • A description of collaboration with other organizations 
  • A process for providing feedback on CHNA or Implementation Plan

Once completed, the Community Health Needs Assessment will be made available via our website:

We look forward to working with you to complete this assessment and seeing the positive results it will generate for Gainesville and the surrounding areas for years to come.

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