Community Health Assessment (CHA)

Public Health
Community Health Assessment (CHA) 

A community health assessment is foundational to improving and promoting the health of a community. The goal of the community health assessment is to identify and describe the health of the community served, the factors that contribute to health challenges, and existing community assets and resources that can be mobilized to improve the community’s health. The assessment helps ensure that local resources are directed toward where they can make the greatest and most timely impact. - MDH

Pine County Public Health worked in partnership with Essentia Health Sandstone to complete the county’s most recent community health assessment.  In addition to working with Essentia Health, Pine County Public Health also created a Public Health Advisory Committee.  The goal of this committee was to assist the department in assessing the community’s health and identifying assets and resources available to them. 

Over 100 health indicator data points were reviewed as a part of the community health assessment.  Data was presented by staff from Pine County Public Health and a representative from Essentia Health Sandstone.  Throughout the data review process, Public Health Advisory Committee members flagged data points that stood out as areas of concern, which were then utilized in the prioritization process.  An outline of current assets and resources were also identified by the Public Health Advisory Committee. To review data that was presented, click here and here.

Once the data review process was complete, prioritizing the greatest needs of the community began. This was completed through a series of three steps, with the first being a survey completed by advisory committee members.  Members were asked to select the top five health problems facing Pine County residents, in addition to the top five factors that define a healthy community.  Through this first step, the top eight priorities were identified.  The second step utilized the Hanlon Matrix to narrow down the top eight priorities to the top three.  Advisory committee members were asked to rate each health priority from 1-10 in the areas of control, seriousness, size, interventions and health equity, with 1 being poor/low/not serious/low inequities, and 10 being good/high/serious/high inequities.  Mental health, obesity and substance use were the three priorities that received the highest ratings.  Once the top three priority areas were identified, members of the advisory committee, along with public health staff began discussing the need to have a deeper understanding as to why these priority areas were rising to the top in Pine County.  These conversations are what lead to the final step in the prioritization process, which was conducting a root cause analysis of the top three priorities.  A staff member from the Minnesota Department of Health was brought in to facilitate this process, looking at factors contributing to the issues, helping the issues, and current partners available.  By the end of the root cause analysis process, three common themes had floated to the top as major factors effecting mental health, substance use and obesity within Pine County.  These themes were then used to redefine our three priority areas as: 1. mental health, 2. social connection, and 3. economic security.   

Top priorities:

1. Mental Health
2. Social Connection
3. Economic Security

After identifying the priority action areas, we recognized that we needed to reach out and learn from our community in order to strengthen our understanding of how we can impact these priority areas in an effective and efficient way. We wanted to learn more from our community about what was going well, what we could be doing better, and what we were not doing at all that we should have been doing in respect to improving our community’s mental health, social connection, and economic security.  This need prompted the creation of community action teams for each priority area.  Each action team met twice with different community members attending each meeting, bringing new ideas, concerns, and solutions.  The content of these meetings was then brought back to our advisory committee and was used to select the goals and strategies for our community health improvement plan.    

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the development of Pine County’s Community Health Improvement Plan was halted as public health shifted gears to respond to the County’s COVID-19 response.  To date, the Community Health Improvement Plan is in its final stages of completion and will be released this summer.