DPH forums intended to identify community health needs


An Island planning committee formed to assist the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital meet Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) requirements that require the hospital to support community health projects will hold two public forums this month to identify Island priorities.

The first forum is Tuesday, May 18 from 7 to 8:30 pm at the West Tisbury School cafeteria. The second will be on Thursday, May 20 from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Vineyard Haven Public Library.

The hospital, whose successful fundraising campaign underwrote the new hospital that is scheduled to open this month, must divert the dollars to outside projects, as part of a DPH evaluation process known as a determination of need (DoN).

The DoN program requires that applicants spend money, generally five percent of a project’s cost, on community health initiatives (CHIs), based on DPH guidelines.

The CHIs process is moving forward with guidance from consultants working for DPH from the Southeast Center for Healthy Communities (SCHC). At some point, requests for proposals will be issued that would allow Island organizations offering health-related services to apply for a share of funding.

Some of the hospital money will be used to pay the SCHC for its role in helping Islanders identify how best to spend hospital money on community needs, within the guidelines set by DPH.

According to DPH, “The Community Health Initiative (CHI) program is intended to foster collaborations between applicant institutions and community-based partners to improve the health status of vulnerable populations and to build community capacity to promote social determinants of good health.”

DPH sets the following priorities for CHI expenditures: eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities and their social determinants; promoting wellness in the home, workplace, school, and community; or preventing and managing chronic disease.