Improving Public Health and Preventing Chronic Disease
Health cannot be defined simply as the absence of disease. Mental, spiritual and environmental well-being all play a part in the overall health of an individual or a community. For this reason, we go beyond hospital walls to help improve the long-term health of the communities we serve.
This work is a fulfillment of our mission, which calls us to advocate for the poor and disenfranchised and to partner with others in our communities to improve the quality of life. Our primary focus in Community Benefit is to decrease or eliminate disparities in the availability of care.
Community Benefit as a Science
Community Benefit activities typically include services that happen outside a hospital's walls. This can include health fairs, free health screenings, immunizations, and health education classes. Each of our hospitals and health clinics conducts regular Community Needs Assessments to determine which of these services are most needed by the communities they serve. But for many years the effectiveness of these activities was difficult to measure because different philosophies and models for tracking were being employed across the nation.
All of that began to change in 2005 when Dignity Health pioneered the nation's first Community Need Index, which maps the level of community need for every zip code in the United States. With this standardized tool, we are now able to pinpoint communities with more barriers to access and take strategic, informed steps to meet those needs. We are now applying the same level of scientific rigor we demand in the practice of medicine to the practice of Community Benefits.
And with better tools for measurement we are better able to design the programs and services that will have a real impact on the health of the communities we serve. Today, our hospitals and health clinics build Community Benefit programs that focus on:
- Communities with high levels of unmet health needs
- Primary prevention of disease
- Building a full continuum of care
- Building the community's capacity to meet current and future needs
- Collaborative oversight between caregivers and the community
To find out more about the Community Benefit work going on in your neighborhood, download your hospital's Community Benefit Report.