UVM Medical Center Publishes 2022 Health Needs Assessment
Culturally inclusive health care, housing, mental health and wellbeing top list of community health needs identified in UVM Medical Center’s 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment - the most inclusive and robust in the institution's history.
BURLINGTON, Vt. – As communities across the country grapple with access to health care, and with longstanding disparities negatively impacting the health and wellness of historically marginalized groups, the University of Vermont Medical Center released the findings of its 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment. This year’s report, conducted every three years, was the most inclusive and robust in the organization’s history of conducting the assessment.
“Health and wellness does not begin or end in a hospital or at a doctor’s office,” said Dr. Steve Leffler, President of UVM Medical Center. “Our patients hear that from health care providers every single day. In the same way, this organization’s partnership with our community, and our mission improving and maintaining the health of the people we serve, also begins long before — and continues long after — patients visit our facilities seeking care.”
The top six community health priorities and key findings identified in the 2022 CHNA are: accessible and coordinated care, cultural humility and inclusive health care, food access and security; safe, affordable and healthy housing; mental health and wellbeing; and workforce development.
“Cultural Humility and Inclusive Health Care” was ranked as a top priority by residents of Chittenden and Grand Isle counties, where the assessment was conducted – with community leaders emphasizing the importance of respecting how cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs guide health and wellbeing, and about 66 percent of survey respondents indicating they do not feel their cultural identities are respected by health care providers.
Access to healthy, safe, affordable housing and mental health and wellbeing were also top-of-mind for participants, with 62% of respondents saying that increasing access to affordable housing would improve health and wellbeing, and 1 in 6 households experiencing “severe” housing problems such as overcrowding or having incomplete kitchen facilities or plumbing. About 65% of survey respondents said increasing access to mental health services would strengthen health and wellbeing, and there were increases in the number of adults reporting “mentally unhealthy days,” and the number of high school students feeling “sad or hopeless.”
“Understanding the needs of our region and identifying the health care priorities that will guide our organization moving forward doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Erin Armstrong, Manager of Community Benefits and Community Health Improvement for UVM Medical Center. “It happens through the relationships we build and the work we do with our community partners. We’re incredibly thankful to those who contributed their unique perspectives to make this research the most inclusive and robust in our history of completing this assessment.”
A Focus on Diversity, Health Equity and Inclusion
The UVM Medical Center conducts a CHNA every three years, to understand current health trends and regional needs, and has done so since the 1980s – long before it became a mandate under the Affordable Care Act. While it is not a complete analysis of any one issue, the data help identify priorities, facilitate community discussion, and guide the creation of health- and health care-related goals.
The CHNA informs the funding priorities for the next three years for the Community Health Investment Fund, which grants out nearly $1M annually. Additionally, the CHNA informs the priority focus of the Chittenden Accountable Community for Health (CACH). CACH is a cross-sectoral alliance that plans and implements strategies to improve population health and health equity for all residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.
The 2022 CHNA — conducted over an 11-month period beginning in May of 2021 — collected and analyzed data from interviews with more than 30 community leaders, more than 70 population-level health and wellbeing indicators drawn from existing secondary data, focus group discussions with five specific groups facing unique challenges related to health and wellbeing, a Community Survey with more than 3,700 residents, and Community Health Priority sessions that included 140 participants and 57 organizations and agencies.
The community survey portion of the assessment was open to residents age 16 and older. It was conducted in 12 languages, including American Sign Language, and with one-on-one support provided by interpreters from the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants-Vermont.
It is the first CHNA to be offered in multiple languages – a step that allowed the assessment to capture responses from a broader range of community members regarding what matters to them when it comes to their health and wellbeing, said members of the assessment’s 37-member steering committee, who also noted that the survey received more than double the number of responses as the 2019 CHNA.
“Ensuring that everyone has a seat the table and that their voices are heard is critical,” said Ali Dieng, Regional Manager of Building Bright Futures for Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle and Central Vermont, and a member of the CHNA Steering Committee. “Feeling that you have a place and a voice in your community is the foundation of wellbeing. This assessment is unlike any before it, when it comes to our emphasis on acknowledging the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, and our commitment to pursuing health equity for people throughout Vermont.”
To see a list of the many community partners involved with the assessment, and to read the full report, visit The UVM Medical Center’s CHNA webpage here.