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Creating a Culture of Health in Rural Arkansas

Author: CYNTHIA R. DAY, PAMELA F. ASHCRAFT and PATRICIA SCOTT
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 40 No. 3


Residents of Yell County have high rates of childhood and adult overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, teen births, and children in poverty. A recent community health needs assessment performed by John Ed Chambers Memorial Hospital (JECMH) identified an unprecedented opportunity to improve the health and the quality of life for residents of this small west central Arkansas county. In order to effect change, JECMH sought to go outside the confines of traditional hospital based responses and utilize the Culture of Health (COH) Action Framework to engage the community in developing an action plan. The COH Action Framework include four focus areas: Action Area 1, Making Health a Shared Value; Action Area 2, Fostering Cross-sector Collaboration to Improve Well-being; Action Area 3, Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities; and Action Area 4, Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems.
Three outcomes specific to Healthy People 2020 are proposed for the residents of Yell County. Over the next 10 years, reduce the proportion of adults who are obese in Yell County from 35% to 31%; reduce the proportion of adults that participate in no leisure time activities from 37% to 33%; and increase access to locations for physical activity from 41% to 44%.
The aim of this article is to demonstrate how a rural community hospital can utilize the COH Action Framework to conduct a community health needs assessment and engage the community in developing a long-term action plan. The methods of data collection include a combination of community opinion surveys and key informant interviews.
This article illustrates how moving beyond the traditional patient/healthcare organization relationship can lead to healthier communities.

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