Waverly Health Center Assessment Prioritizes Chronic Disease Management, Mental Health Services | Local News


WAVERLY — Most people have heard of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

That being said, the Waverly Health Center’s Community Health Needs Assessment indicates that more work needs to be done over the next three years to manage and prevent them.

“We’re not hitting the mark as a country and not addressing the diseases that people are dying from,” said Heidi Solheim, WHC’s chief operating officer.

Solheim said making a difference comes down to changing behavior.

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Part of the center’s action plan includes continuing to lead the Waverly Region Healthy Living Partnership. According to its website, the partnership was formed in January 2010 by a group of citizens concerned with tackling the problem of obesity.

Solheim said it’s time to encourage patients to “get back on track” when it comes to getting their physicals and screenings, and to re-engage them in healthy eating initiatives and of exercise.

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“We’ve lost the habit of doing what’s good for us,” she says.

Waverly Health Center Community Needs Assessment

Waverly Health Center completed its first needs assessment in June 2013 and has conducted one every three years in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and federal tax exemption rules.

The hope is that by writing the report and implementing action measures, the hospital can continue to provide high-quality, person-centered health care.

Internally, Solheim said, the assessment also prioritized finding ways to increase mental health services by identifying more providers and establishing new partnerships.

Currently, patients face wait times to access mental health services and cannot get in touch immediately with “providers who can prescribe the necessary medications,” she said, for exemple.

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That makes new programs, like Unite Iowa — a coordinated care network of health and social service providers — even more important, she noted.

Once a person’s health and social needs have been identified, a shared technology platform can refer a patient electronically to multiple partners and communicate “seamlessly” with providers “in real time.”

Specific to Bremer, Butler and Chickasaw counties, Solheim said the report reaffirmed stark disparities between Butler and Bremer counties.

She pointed to a page in the report referring to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, a program of the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute. In terms of overall health, Butler is ranked 62nd out of Iowa’s 99 counties and Bremer is fourth.

Residents of Butler County rank 80th for “lifespan.” Bremer County ranks seventh.

The health center report was written in collaboration with Community Memorial Hospital, Bremer County Health Department and Waverly-Shell Rock Area United Way.

The research was done primarily through an online survey, with a series of ranked, multiple-choice and open-ended questions.

It was filled by 272 people.

Of these, 23.22% were between 50 and 59 years old. In total, 84.27% were women. Almost all of them – 98.52% – were white or Caucasian. And the overwhelming majority live and work in Bremer County.

Compared to years past, Solheim said, there are new questions about countering misinformation and disinformation.

“Where do people get their information from? ” she says. “Is it from the CDC or the World Health Organization, or via social media? These are not questions we should have asked ourselves before.

In addition to chronic disease management and access to mental health services, the health center has identified its other priorities as wellness and aging services – obesity reduction, preventive examinations/screenings and vaccinations – and unintentional injuries such as falls and traffic accidents.

“The priority areas of the CHNA action plan for this period have not changed significantly from previous assessments. These issues are pervasive, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated chronic illnesses and mental health needs in our service area and across the state,” the report summary said.

The full assessment and action plan can be viewed online at waverlyhealthcenter.org/about-us/community-needs-assessment.


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