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May 24, 2022

Saint Anne’s Hospital Study Reveals Growing Community Health Needs

Fall River, MA - Saint Anne’s Hospital recently completed a “community health needs assessment” to guide future outreach programs aimed at reducing obstacles to health.

The needs assessment, performed once every three years, incorporated feedback directly from the community through an online survey and several community meetings held with various groups throughout Fall River.

Key findings in the report indicate several areas of need in the Greater Fall River community. It also suggests that some long-term community health issues, such as behavioral health and chronic disease, have worsened throughout the pandemic.

“Overall, Fall River lags behind the region and the state as a whole in most socioeconomic metrics, with very high poverty levels, low educational attainment, and higher unemployment,” the report states. “Income, education, race, and other socioeconomic indicators are factors that affect health outcomes and are among the best predictors of health status and health equity.”

Key community health needs identified in the report include:

  • Behavioral health: mental health, substance use disorder, youth trauma
  • Housing: affordability, stability, obstacles, homelessness
  • Wellness and chronic disease: unhealthy behaviors, health outcomes, prevention
  • Food insecurity: persons who are food-insecure, SNAP gap, nutrition
  • Health access and equity: underserved populations, obstacles to care, health literacy

The hospital collaborated with Springline Research Group, of Westport, MA, in conducting the study.

Saint Anne’s will use these findings to help guide its community outreach initiatives over the next three years. The hospital has already used the data to craft an implementation plan for 2022 that outlines programs aimed at mitigating the community health issues identified by the study.

“No one institution will solve these issues alone,” says Tracy Ibbotson, administrative director of community benefits at Saint Anne’s Hospital. “It’s vital that we work together with other organizations to help shine a light on the needs of our community and work together to find solutions.”

Ibbotson collaborates with colleagues from Saint Anne’s Hospital, as well as several human service and municipal agencies to continue to improve local health and wellness services. Recent accomplishments have included peer recovery coaches for patients with substance use disorder, programs to improve access to healthy foods, scholarships for multicultural students pursuing health care-related degrees, multilingual COVID outreach and education, health insurance enrollment, and more.

Other highlights include a Behavioral Health Navigation program at Saint Anne’s, which provides screening, intervention, advocacy, and referrals to treatment services for Saint Anne’s Emergency Department patients and inpatients with substance use disorder, mental illness, or both.

The hospital partners with the community to address food insecurity by providing volunteer staffing at the First Baptist Church Soup Kitchen and financial support for the Greater Fall River Community Food Pantry. The hospital also facilitates access to fresh, locally grown produce by hosting an on-site farmer market that accepts the Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Healthy Eating Program (HIP) benefits.

Click to read the full Community Health Needs Assessment.