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Mental health, substance use disorders and access to primary care services are among the most pressing health needs facing the communities that Wentworth-Douglass Hospital serves, according to the hospital’s 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.
Wentworth-Douglass conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years to identify where the hospital should focus its programs and services to improve the overall health of the individuals and families it serves.
This year’s assessment also identified six other community needs including: access to long-term services and supports, chronic disease, financial barriers to care, obesity and physical inactivity, oral health, and social determinants of health (basic needs and transportation).
Mental health and substance use disorders are two strongly correlated health concerns that Wentworth-Douglass has been highly focused on since a 2016 assessment.
While the hospital has made progress in these areas by investing in its own services (Wentworth Health Partners’ integrated behavioral health, Great Bay Mental Health, Crisis Team Clinicians and The Doorway), along with investing in community partnerships, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to magnify these issues by causing fear and confusion, which increased rates of anxiety and depression through all age populations, according to the assessment.
“Wentworth-Douglass has continued to grow its behavioral health services, year after year, by adding additional counselors, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, care coordinators and crisis team clinicians,” said Kellie Mueller, assistant vice president of Behavioral Health Services at Wentworth-Douglass. “Our future growth includes adding additional clinicians to current programs, as well as developing new programs such as a substance use recovery clinic for medication assisted treatment.”
COVID-19, workforce shortages, and population increases were some of the factors challenging the community’s access to primary care.
Wentworth-Douglass recently opened Primary Care of Rochester to address a particular need in northern Strafford County and is working on new strategies for staff recruitment to improve access to primary care and expand services to meet the community’s health needs.
Beyond expanding access to primary care and behavioral health services, Wentworth-Douglass plans to meet the needs identified in the community assessment by:
· Maintaining financial assistance services and reducing barriers to care.
· Continuing to operate a Community Dental Center
· Expanding the Care-Van program to provide transportation to qualifying patients.
· Focusing on opportunities for educational events and health screenings.
· Providing community grants to local non-profits to help address these needs.
The 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment obtained feedback from individuals and experts representing broad interests across the community, including many with specialized expertise in public health. The assessment also included data from a University of New Hampshire community health assessment survey, with over 500 participants from the Wentworth-Douglass service area.
The 2022 Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment is available online at https://www.wdhospital.org/wdh/about-wdh/giving-back
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