St. Louis hospitals set to evaluate local community health requirements

Local Health Systems Partner for Upstream Health Approach in St. Louis

In an effort to improve health outcomes in St. Louis, local hospital systems are collaborating together. According to Dr. Alexander Garza, chief community health officer at SSM Health, focusing on social needs upstream is crucial to getting ahead of the curve of illness in the United States. Factors like living conditions, housing quality, exposure to lead, and neighborhood walkability all play a part in impacting overall health.

Not-for-profit health systems like SSM Health are required by law to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act. These assessments help identify community needs so that hospitals can allocate their resources more effectively and meet those needs in the future.

For this year’s assessment, SSM Health is partnering with BJC HealthCare, Mercy, St. Luke’s Hospital, and Shriners Children’s St. Louis. The partnership involves a community survey and a series of listening sessions to gather information and feedback from community members. By working together and listening to community input, these health systems aim to align their efforts more closely and effectively address the social determinants of health like food access, education, economic stability, housing, basic amenities, and the environment.

SSM Health’s Dr. Garza emphasizes that improving health outcomes starts well before patients walk through clinic or hospital doors and that focusing on social needs upstream is crucial for better overall health in the St. Louis community. He believes that by addressing factors such as living conditions and housing quality that have an impact on overall health outcomes will ultimately lead to better patient care and ultimately improve health outcomes for everyone involved

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