Laramie residents with ideas, suggestions or concerns about health care services and systems within the community will have the chance to be heard as part of Ivinson Memorial Hospitals community health needs assessment through the next year.
“This is the first community health needs assessment that Ivinson has spearheaded,” said Beth Young Jones, executive director of the IMH Foundation and IMH administrator. “There are so many wonderful things happening in Laramie; there’s such a vision for where this community is going. This is just one critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to looking at where Laramie wants to be several years from now — specific to health care, of course.”
The assessment, expected to be finished around June 2020, is a requirement under the Affordable Care Act for nonprofit hospitals; IMH started under its nonprofit status in January 2018.
Although IMH is coordinating the effort, the goal is to create a comprehensive, community-based assessment. Jones said a steering committee of 30 nonprofits and community stakeholders — including the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, the Laramie Soup Kitchen, the Cathedral Home for Children and more — are participating with ideas, concerns and their own needs.
“I feel like health weaves its way into absolutely everything that we see in our community,” she said. “So, when we put out the call to organizations throughout the community to say, ‘Hey, can you participate and be involved in this?’ and they respond with not only a yes but action behind their desire to participate, it says so much of Laramie.”
Jones said in her experience conducting similar assessments for the state, she found that many organizations conduct nearly identical assessments for a variety of reasons — to comply with grant funding requirements, for example — spending money to answer many of the same questions.
“The administration of the hospital decided that we would take a more comprehensive approach, asking questions that resonate with several different service organizations so that we could really dig into the issues that affect health in the community and look at it from a perspective that’s bigger than just Ivinson,” she said.
The public will also have a chance to get involved with listening sessions scheduled for 3:30-4:30 p.m. Sept. 23 and 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Albany County Public Library’s community room. Food and childcare will be provided.
“People can come and voice their opinion and give their insight into health constructs that exist or don’t exist throughout the community,” Jones said. “The intent is really to make sure that there’s an opportunity for people to be as involved as they would like.”
After spending the fall collecting data from the steering committee, listening sessions and an upcoming community survey, Jones said in the spring the group will compile a list of priorities based on the data and insights.
Not only will the assessment be published on IMH’s website next summer, but paper copies will also be available throughout the community.
“We’re spending so much time gathering the voices, we want to make sure that we also honor the time that everyone is spending as they participate and get the findings out to them as well,” Jones said.