Community Health Needs Assessment
Southcoast Health continually strives to understand the health needs of the communities we serve and to offer services aligned with those needs. Every several years, Southcoast conducts a comprehensive community needs assessment to measure successes and issues in the region, sharing the results with our community partners and the public online.
This report presents an integrated summary of the major findings, including a broad-based demographic scan, in-depth interviews with key informants and focus groups with residents living in communities served by Southcoast. It also includes detailed findings from primary qualitative research and informs our overall Community Benefits Plan. View our 2013 and 2016 reports.
Southcoast Health collaborates with community stakeholders and conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years to determine the most pressing community health needs. This assessment allows us to identify issues and focus our efforts to best-serve the community.
Substance Use Disorders: Prevention and Intervention
Recent health assessments indicate that substance use disorders (SUDs) are one of the most dangerous and growing issues in the South Coast region. Southcoast Health aims to improve health outcomes by increasing public understanding of SUDs and participating in community coalitions focused on combatting SUDs. Additionally, we promote efforts to increase substance use outreach amongst vulnerable and marginalized subpopulations and efforts to destigmatize SUDs.
Mental Health: Access to Treatment
Mental health is one of the most prevalent issues in the south coast region, and is especially pressing due to insufficient access to health care resources and high levels of stigma. Southcoast aims to increase mental health outreach for vulnerable and marginalized subpopulations, strengthen continuum of care for patients with mental health disorders, and destigmatize and support mental health.
Chronic Disease Prevention and Treatment
Chronic diseases, like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, are the leading cause of death and disability in south coast region. Most chronic diseases can be prevented and regulated by eating a balanced diet, getting regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and excessive drinking, and attending health screenings. Southcoast works to provide better access to health appointments, affordable, nutritious foods, and safe and fun places for activity. Additionally, we engage in educating the community on chronic diseases and the associated health impacts, increasing awareness of the region’s resources for chronic disease prevention and management through referrals, and improving surveillance of chronic diseases and screening by increasing the presence of the Southcoast Wellness Van in the region.
Health Disparities and Social Determinants of Health
The South Coast region experiences significant disparities in health by race, ethnicity, income level, and education level. Many of these disparities exist due to a lack of access to affordable, healthy foods, safe stable housing and places to participate in physical activity, transportation to get to medical appointments, and understanding of the health issues that individuals may face.
Southcoast aims to increase awareness of social determinants of health and their impact, access to free of low-cost health food options and opportunities for active living, availability of housing programs, job training, and educational opportunities, and continued advocacy for smoking restrictions. Additionally, we work to target outreach efforts to vulnerable and marginalized subpopulations within the region, strengthen the presence of the Southcoast Wellness Van across the region, increase awareness of insurance application assistance via Patient Financial Services, and support innovative and creative community-based programs through grants and collaborations.
Positive Youth Development
According to recent assessments, the South Coast region experiences high rates of youth violence, substance use, teen pregnancy and low educational attainment (especially in the communities of Fall River and New Bedford). Southcoast works to improve these statistics by supporting organizations that focus on strengthening substance use disorder prevention and increasing social support for youth. Southcoast also serves as an active member of several youth focused coalitions which seek to create a network of youth services to empower young people in the community.
Maternal and Children’s Health
Many segments of Southcoast Hospital Group’s service region have high rates of smoking among pregnant women and low breastfeeding rates compared to state averages. Breastfeeding has long-term effects on the health of both infants and mothers. Some benefits include reduced risk of asthma, obesity, type II diabetes, and SIDS for the infant, and reduced risk of high blood pressure, type II diabetes, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer for the mother.
Southcoast aims to promote maternal and child health by educating pregnant women about the risks associated with various behaviors, enrolling more individuals into parenting education programs during pregnancy, increasing access to prenatal care for women with substance use disorder, and increasing social support for pre- and postpartum mothers. All three Southcoast hospitals provide subsidized lactation classes and free, weekly Baby Cafés led by a Southcoast Health Obstetrician/Gynecologist provide support to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and assistance from specially-trained lactation consultants and WIC peer counselors.
Southcoast aims to increase the emergency preparedness in our region through improvements to the built and social environment. This includes making donations of equipment and supplies to local organizations and municipalities, and supporting community trainings and providing opportunities to enhance coordination of emergency preparedness activities.