Exciting Collaboration to Improve Health Care Access in Reno County

Date Published: 04/02/17 04:53:pm

The Health Care Access Task Force, one of Heal’s work groups, is an example of what can happen when individuals and organizations work collaboratively, sharing the overall goal of improving community health. The task force currently includes representatives from Hospice and Homecare of Reno County, Horizons Mental Health Center, Hutchinson Clinic, Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, Reno County Health Department, Prairie Star, Summit Healthcare, United Way of Reno County, USD 308, Wesley Towers and individuals who have an interest in helping create a more seamless health care system for our community.

Nearly three years ago, this group was charged with developing an updated Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), which is a requirement for accreditation for both Hutchinson Regional Medical Center and Reno County Health Department. Members of the group began their work by administering a Community Health Assessment (CHA) to collect the current and relevant data from residents of Reno County. Responses to the CHA revealed the top five community health issues were: obesity, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, mental health and cost of healthcare. Representation from many health care entities on the task force and gathering feedback from folks throughout the county through the survey were important steps in developing a plan that truly addressed the community’s health issues, but the task force believed the more input they received, the better. In April of 2016, over 50 community members attended a forum to share thoughts, study the collected data and consider the readiness of the community to make strides on each of the identified health issues.

“The community decided obesity and mental health would be the priority areas for the CHIP. They determined the greatest possibility for improvement would come from developing and implementing strategies in those two areas,” said forum facilitator Lisa Gleason, Director of Community Impact and Engagement at United Way of Reno County. (Read the complete CHIP.)

In July of 2016, Heal announced that Reno County had been chosen to receive a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant. Heal’s Advisory Council realized that receiving this grant provided a wonderful opportunity to involve new, passionate voices as work group chairpersons and increase overall community engagement in the coalition’s work to make Reno County healthier.

“We’re thankful to Peggy Tuxhorn, Vice President of Quality at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, for stepping up to the leadership role in the Health Care Access Task Force. She cares very deeply about this community and has a vision of creating a more integrated health care community,” Gleason shared.

Tuxhorn has seen the Health Care Access Task Force grow over the years - in membership and willingness to work together to take on issues in health care.

“We have really become advocates for the health issues of this community. Through our brainstorming and discussions, we have an aggressive list of issues we feel need to be addressed. It’s exciting to think what a group of community members and providers can accomplish by working together,” said Tuxhorn.

In addition to working alongside other Heal work groups to ensure progress on the CHIP, some of the focuses of the Health Care Access Task Force’s work this year will be:

  • Creating better access to healthcare through availability of transportation and providers’ hours of operation
  • Encouraging providers to educate and/or share resources with their patients regarding physical activity during their office visits
  • Working with providers to address weight issues with patients during office visits – encouraging visits with dieticians and sharing resources this group may develop
  • Addressing the need for behavioral health resources for providers to share
  • Determining what proactive health screenings are needed and how to best make those screening available to community members
  • Beginning development of a mental health anti-stigma campaign

If you or your workplace would like to be a part of the Health Care Access Task Force, please contact Chairperson Peggy Tuxhorn at healthcare@healrenocounty.org. Heal Reno County would welcome your involvement on this or any of our other five work groups as we join together to make Reno County a healthier place to live, work, learn and play.

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