WALSENBURG – At the invitation of Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center (SPRHC), Colorado STRIDES, a program of the Colorado Rural Health Center (CRHC), facilitated the third of four meetings designed to assess community health needs in the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center service area on Monday, Nov 14.
At this public meeting, Colorado STRIDES Program Manager, Clint Cresawn, provided attendees with a report outlining results of the community survey designed to measure Huerfano County residents’ satisfaction and utilization of the hospital, as well as a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis, examining health, healthcare, and healthy living in Huerfano County.
A key finding of the survey was that over 77 percent of respondents who had used SPRHC services were satisfied with the care received there, citing good quality of care, good customer service, and convenience. This positive feedback is reflective of the work SPRHC has been doing in becoming a Patient Centered Medical Home.
At the National Rural Health Association’s Annual Rural Health Clinic and Critical Access Hospital conference in Kansas City, MO this year, SPRHC President and CEO, Todd Oberheu, and CIO, Bill Bolt, presented information on their facility’s journey to attaining recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). Through passing various standards in areas such as enhancing care access and continuity, managing and coordinating patient care, and community support, SPRHC was the first Critical Access Hospital in Colorado to gain PCMH recognition from the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA). Being an NCQA PCMH recognized practice denotes SPRHC’s achievements in providing accessible, family-centered, continuous care that recognizes the patient as a whole person.
However, the survey also showed that of respondents who had not used SPRHC services, the majority had gone to Pueblo for care. Cresawn noted that while some out-of-county referrals for specialty care are appropriate, when Huerfano County residents take their healthcare dollars out-of-county for services provided in the county, they also tend to take dollars used for shopping, eating out, and lodging. This healthcare “leakage” has a negative impact on the local economy, affecting not only the hospital, but also businesses that hospital employees frequent.
During the second portion of the meeting, participants reviewed demographic, economic, survey, and health data associated with the assessment in order to make recommendations to the hospital regarding how it could better serve the needs of the county. Some of the recommendations are as follows:
• Recommendations to hospital
A desire for more holistic wellness and preventative care, focusing on the body, mind, and spirit. Although wellness is a “burning question” for adults and elders, there is currently a lack of resources – at an infrastructure level, a community level, and a personal level – to address this issue.
• Investigate bringing in holistic providers
Spearhead an initiative to explore a holistic wellness program.
• Spearhead health education classes for Huerfano County Support and publicize the existence of LiveWell Huerfano.
• Look to collaborate with LiveWell Huerfano
The tensions between economic development (including unemployment and job creation) and environmental protection.
It is difficult to balance job and wealth creation with environmental impacts of industry.
Be proactive in planning for the healthcare needs of the community, including consideration of possible environmental impacts and special health needs of possible future industry and its resulting workforce .
The connection between the economy and elder care, including assisted living and skilled nursing.
The aging population in Huerfano County wants to age in the community safely. However, since the closure of the Walsenburg Care Center (and related loss of jobs) the only facility in the county is the veterans’ nursing home, which is not available to all residents. There is a lack of other elder care providers.
• Take a leadership role in developing – or recruiting into the community – a facility that will provide assisted living and nursing home care.
• Shortage of healthcare providers (and resulting lack of healthcare services and continuity of care), including medical, dental, and mental health extensive pressure on providers to serve above and beyond urban expectations.
• Explore new ways to inform residents about specialists who are available.
• Explore involving the community in a recruitment and retention committee on a trial basis, perhaps for one year.
The fourth and final public meeting will be held on Monday, December 12 at 6 pm at the La Veta Community Center on East Ryus Avenue. A light dinner will be served.
Oberheu, President and CEO of the hospital, will respond to the community’s recommendations.
Colorado Rural Health Center has a diverse and inclusive statewide constituency of over 3,500 people and organizations. CRHC collaborates with a variety of partner organizations, such as public and private sector corporations, government agencies, foundations, hospitals, and other health facilities. For more information visit www.coruralhealth.org, call 303-832-7493, or call toll free 800-851-6782 from rural Colorado.