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Rockingham hospital identifies health priorities

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Obesity, teen pregnancy and diabetes are among the health problems Harrisonburg-based RMH Healthcare has targeted for action as a result of a recent survey.

RMH operates Rockingham Memorial Hospital, part of Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare, a nonprofit health system. The Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in 2010, requires all nonprofit hospitals every three years to assess the health needs of a community and develop a strategy to combat problems.

RMH contracted with Richmond-based Community Health Solutions to handle the survey and analyze the data. The resulting Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) identified prevalent health problems in the community.

“The results of the needs assessment will guide us in expanding and developing services to respond to the emerging health needs of our community, in partnership with other local providers,” Kay Harrison, RHH’s vice president for business development, said in a statement. “With the current challenges facing health care institutions, it is becoming increasingly important to promote screening for early detection of disease, to teach people skills for coping with symptoms of chronic disease, and helping patients navigate the health care system.”

The RMH service region includes the counties of Rockingham, Shenandoah, Page, Highland, Augusta and Bath and the cities of Harrisonburg and Staunton.

RMH sent surveys to more than 100 health-care providers, nonprofit leaders, business and government officials and representatives from the Virginia departments of health and social services.

A work group at RMH reviewed survey results and identified the priority health issues for the service region as:
• Adult and childhood obesity
• Teen pregnancy
• Mental health and substance abuse
• Diabetes
• Heart disease and hypertension
• Cancer

The data showed that parts of the RMH service region are disproportionately affected by poor health status and health conditions. Populations in the cities of Harrisonburg and Staunton, northern Page County and eastern Rockingham County are more at risk for poor health.

“The results of the needs assessment will guide us in expanding and developing services to respond to the emerging health needs of our community, in partnership with other local providers,” Harrison said in a statement. “With the current challenges facing health-care institutions, it is becoming increasingly important to promote screening for early detection of disease, to teach people skills for coping with symptoms of chronic disease, and helping patients navigate the health care system.”

To address the major health concerns identified by the survey, RMH plans to:
• Partner with James Madison University on the new Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) to combat teen pregnancy.
• Place a behavioral health consultant at East Rockingham Health Center to increase access to mental health resources.
• Provide leadership to the Central Shenandoah Valley Family Partnership to improve outcomes for families affected by substance abuse.
• Research best-practice tobacco cessation programs and explore funding opportunities to implement them through RMH Community Health.
• Evaluate the campus master plan and explore funding opportunities to place a community garden on the RMH campus to support obesity prevention.

Many existing programs will be expanded, including health coaching services offered through the RMH Heart and Vascular Center, Women’s Center, Wellness Center, Behavioral Health and Community Health. The monthly teen pregnancy support group offered through RMH Community Health will be expanded to include outreach to parents and siblings also. 


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