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State agency to work with hospital association on improving Virginians’ health

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Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has formed a partnership with the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) aimed at improving the health of the commonwealth’s population.

The initiative, called Partnering for a Healthy Virginia, will coordinate efforts between the state agency, VHHA members hospitals and other stakeholders to address population health.

This project will utilize the findings of community health needs assessments (CHNA), which are completed every three years by Virginia hospitals.

That information is used to assess the health needs of the communities that hospitals serve.

“Virginia’s hospitals are committed to doing all we can to make the commonwealth the healthiest state in the nation,” Michael V. Gentry, outgoing chair of the VHHA board of directors, said in a statement. He is senior corporate vice president and chief operating officer at Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare.

Through the partnership, VDH and VHHA plan to address population health by:

• Forming a multi-stakeholder population health committee to develop strategies for improving Virginia’s rankings on population health metrics and addressing issues that impact health-care costs and well-being outcomes.

• Strengthening the state’s community health improvement coalitions by identifying and supporting existing coalitions and developing new coalitions where none exist.

• Focusing efforts on chronic conditions and issues such as obesity, smoking and chronic diseases, particularly in rural Virginia and distressed communities.

• Developing strategies to improve issues identified in CHNAs including behavioral health and prescription drug misuse.

• Identifying key strategies to combat cultural, economic, geographic and racial health disparities.

• Leveraging data and analytics tools, such as VHHA Analytics and the VDH Data Portal, to provide timely population health insights.

• Identifying areas where funding is needed to support implementation of programs to address community health needs, and collaborating to seek out appropriate private or public grants from foundations, government agencies and other entities.

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