Taking the pulse of the Vineyard

The Community Health Assessment helps the Island be a healthier place.

MVT file photo

This month, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will be conducting the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), a way to take a snapshot of the many factors that contribute to the community health of the Island. Every three years, nonprofit hospitals are expected to complete this assessment; it’s a requirement of the attorney general and the IRS.

“The mission is to safeguard the health of Martha’s Vineyard residents, year-round, seasonal, and visitors,” Denise Schepici, MVH president and CEO, said. “It helps us understand how we can make the Island an even healthier place to live.”

The assessment is not just about the hospital, it’s about all the community services affecting Islanders, including housing, food, substance abuse, psychiatric services, and social work services. “It’s about public health,” Schepici said. “It incorporates many factors of community health including social, economic, and environmental influences on health outcomes. It’s a valuable exercise, a collaboration with the whole community, that we can use to do a better job to plan for and address needs.”

Typical questions on the assessment might include, “How many times in the last year have you have had to move?” “How would you consider your mental health?” “What services have you had trouble accessing?” “Are you satisfied with public transportation?” “Do you feel safe in your environment?” or “Have you ever had to call the police?”

“The questions have been updated since the last assessment,” Schepici said, “We’re hoping to get as much participation as possible this year so we can get a robust set of data to inform us in our program development — that would be our ultimate goal.”

One change over the 2016 assessment is that this year’s assessment will be doing more focus groups to address specific needs.

People can fill out the assessment online; it will be available in English and Portuguese. You can also obtain a survey at the hospital or at the local libraries. It only takes about 20 minutes to fill out, and the results should be available in June.

“If anyone feels they’ve been underrepresented in the past,” Schepici says, “now’s the time to speak up and let us know about resources you think have been successful, or where there are shortfalls where we can improve. This is a chance for the public to give us some great input.”