A coalition for a healthier community: local organizations have partnered to give Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties a wellness exam

Under the Affordable Care Act,  nonprofit hospitals must conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) every three years, as well as indicate
plans for addressing the needs these assessments identify.

In the fall of 2014, when the most recent assessment was conducted, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals pooled their resources with seven other organizations in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties to hire an independent program manager who developed a survey that collected the most accurate and objective health data from local citizens. Their partners in the 2015 CHNA included:

  • Chippewa County Department of Public Health
  • Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership
  • Eau Claire City-County Health Department
  • Eau Claire Healthy Communities
  • Marshfield Clinic
  • Mayo Clinic Health System (Eau Claire)
  • United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley

“We put aside politics and competition and worked together for the sake of the community,” says Rhonda Brown, Division Director of 3D Community Health: Body.Mind.Spirit, a program of HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. “Pooling our resources has been an efficient and effective way to solicit feedback, especially from vulnerable populations who might not take the survey online.”

In Chippewa County, 926 residents completed the survey, while in Eau Claire County, a total of 1,322 residents responded. Members of the committee also gathered data by attending listening sessions at Agnes’ Table, a hunger-relief agency, and the Chippewa Falls Senior Center in Chippewa County, as well as The Community Table and the L.E. Phillips Senior Center in Eau Claire County. A nurse serving the Eau Claire Amish community offered information through an interview, and the committee collected health data about chronic disease rates, hospitalizations, and alcohol use from sources that were publicly available.

The surveys included questions intended to address the
following topics:

  • Alcohol misuse
  • Chronic disease prevention and management
  • Communicable disease prevention and control
  • Environmental and occupational health
  • Healthy growth and development
  • Healthy nutrition
  • Injury and violence
  • Mental health
  • Obesity
  • Oral health
  • Physical activity
  • Reproductive and sexual health
  • Substance use
  • Tobacco use and exposure
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