Tower Health has produced its latest round of Community Health Needs Assessments for its hospitals’ service areas in Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) have been required of tax-exempt hospitals since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010. These assessments, done every three years, create an important opportunity to improve the health of communities. All Tower Health facilities and its community partners completed the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment to identify the region’s health priorities and determine a collective path forward.
The data for Tower Health’s CHNA was collected regionally and reported for each hospital service area. The project engaged more than 4,000 community members and leaders within the organization’s service area through stakeholder interviews, leadership and health equity focus groups, and key informant and community surveys. A health provider inventory, which highlights organizations and agencies that serve the community, was also created.
Based on this work, priority areas identified by the CHNA for the next three years include:
- Access to equitable care
- Behavioral health
- Health education and prevention
- Health equity
With health equity as a focus, "access to care" (a priority from prior CHNAs) transformed to "access to equitable care." Equitable care means delivering care that does not differ in quality according to characteristics of the patient or patient group such as age, gender, geographic location, cultural background, ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic status.
"The information provided in the Community Health Needs Assessment is critical to the current and future health and wellness of our communities," said P. Sue Perrotty, Tower Health President and CEO. "By continuing to develop and invest in the programs and services our families, friends, and neighbors need, we can help ensure ongoing success for the next generation."
Desha Dickson, Tower Health Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Community Wellness, added, "We have already begun work with our community partners at each hospital to finalize plans addressing the priorities identified in this year’s needs assessment. When complete in November, this information will be available publicly. When community organizations bring their strengths and ideas to the table, we are all stronger – collectively and individually – and can make a more significant impact for the members of our communities."
Tower Health completed its last CHNA in 2019 and has since executed several successful programs in each of the hospital’s communities:
- At Chestnut Hill Hospital, the dedicated team of physicians and medical residents volunteered to provide free screenings and educational programs to children at summer camps, seniors at local centers, and high-risk individuals in need of support and care.
- At Phoenixville Hospital, Caring for Our Community – "In this Together" became a community collaborative that provides the knowledge, skills, resources, and expertise to meet the health needs of the diverse community served by the Hospital. The collaborative’s COVID-19 mobile vaccine clinic provided an accessible location for the administration of thousands of vaccines to seniors, at-risk populations, schools, and other groups improving access to care and fostering health equity. In addition to the mobile vaccine clinic, Phoenixville Hospital also partnered with Chester County Health Department to provide COVID-19 vaccines at a local community vaccination clinic.
- In January 2021, Pottstown Hospital launched its Street Medicine Program to increase access to healthcare by providing primary and urgent care to unsheltered individuals in the Pottstown area. To date, more than 150 unique patients have been assessed by the Tower Health Medical Group clinical teams volunteering their time (more than 280 hours to date) and expertise to the program.
- The Community Connection Program (CCP) at Reading Hospital screens patients for potential needs such as access to food, quality housing, and reliable transportation. Eligible patients are assigned a Community Health Worker to reduce barriers they face, make referrals to community-based organizations, and provide clinical support. Between September 2018 and April 2022, the CCP – utilizing the Accountable Health Communities Model through a $4.5 million Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cooperative agreement – completed 142,208 screenings of 53,756 patients and opened 6,378 navigation cases with a Community Health Worker.
This is the first CHNA that St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children has completed. The data collected will support the development of new programs and the enhancement of current programs to serve some of the most economically under-resourced neighborhoods in the country and help meet their needs by combatting food insecurity, supporting those affected by gun violence, connecting families to legal support, mitigating stress, and more. The COVID-19 pandemic further helped the hospital to realize the even wider gaps that resulted as related to accessing care, including a lack of education and awareness of available health services and programs; a greater digital divide and lack of access to technology; an increased demand for behavioral health services; and a limited capacity to provide quality and appropriate care due to limited language services. St. Christopher’s is committed to offering programs and services that not only provide high-quality care close to home, but also address social determinants of health.
Tower Health Community Health Needs Assessments are available here:
- Chestnut Hill Hospital
- Phoenixville Hospital
- Pottstown Hospital
- Reading Hospital
- St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
About Tower Health
Tower Health is a regional integrated healthcare system that offers leading-edge, compassionate healthcare and wellness services to communities in Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. With nearly 12,000 team members, Tower Health consists of Reading Hospital in West Reading; Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia; Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville; Pottstown Hospital in Pottstown; and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, a partnership of Tower Health and Drexel University in Philadelphia. It also includes Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing; Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in West Reading; home healthcare provided by Tower Health at Home; TowerDirect ambulance and emergency response; Tower Health Medical Group; and a network of 25 urgent care facilities across the Tower Health service area. For more information, visit towerhealth.org.