Point of View: Final call for participation — Every voice matters!

It is Community Health Needs Assessment time again

It is Community Health Needs Assessment time again — and just what exactly does that mean?

A Community Health Needs Assessment (or CHNA) is the story of the health of a community. This doesn’t just mean how many people had a heart attack or how many people got COVID.

“Community Health” tells the story of all the different layers of community, family and individual health that makes up our community. This story has been told in our community every three years since 2008. The most recent assessment was completed in early 2020 right before everything changed as the result of a worldwide pandemic. The 2023 assessment will tell the story of the health of our community over the past three years. Three years of changes, stress, adaptations, collaborations, learning and growing.

Our local MAPP (Mobilizing for Action Through Planning and Partnerships) Coalition has partnered with South Peninsula Hospital to complete this assessment locally since 2008 (nonprofit hospitals are required to complete the CHNA process every three years). The local MAPP Coalition is using a nationally recognized, community driven strategic planning process for improving community health. This framework consists of multiple phases: the assessment or data collection phase; the identification of strategic issues; the formulation of goals and strategies; planning; implementation of the plan; and finally, evaluation.

We are considering all 14 southern Kenai peninsula communities in the assessment — all those that make up the hospital’s service area. This includes not only Homer, but Anchor Point, Diamond Ridge, Fritz Creek, Happy Valley, Kachemak City, Kachemak Selo, Nanwalek, Nikolaevsk, Ninilchik, Port Graham, Razdolna, the greater Seldovia community, and Voznesenka. Over the past few months, the CHNA Committee has made a concerted effort to ensure that voices are captured throughout the entire service area and that we are not predominantly hearing from only Homer residents.

We are currently wrapping up our data collection phase and the Perceptions of Health Survey is one of the main tools used to capture the voice of community members. The survey can be accessed online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SKP-MAPP_POH22, on the MAPP website at www.mappofskp.net, on the South Peninsula Hospital website at www.sphosp.org, by emailing mappofskp@gmail.com, or by calling 907-317-2050.

Surveys will be gathered until Jan. 31 so there is still an opportunity to participate! The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, responses are anonymous, and will help direct community health improvement initiatives in the coming years. Every respondent is entered for a chance to win gift cards from local businesses — for everything from gas to groceries. Special thanks to the MAPP Coalition members for those donated gift cards.

Once the data collection phase is complete, the CHNA Report will be published and available to the public — this is planned for the summer of 2023. At that time, MAPP will convene a series of community events to review the report via “data walks” so we can collaboratively identify the strategic areas for health improvement initiatives over the next few years.

Past CHNA reports can be found on the MAPP website and have led to community health improvement initiatives such as community gardens, trauma-informed systems change efforts, and the creation of the Southern Kenai Peninsula Opioid Task Force (now known as the All Things Recovery Coalition).

Don’t miss your chance to be heard, fill out a survey today!

Hannah Gustafson is the coordinator for MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) of the Southern Kenai Peninsula.

MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) is a local health improvement coalition with the vision of a proactive, resilient and innovative community.