Help identify the Cape’s most pressing health needs
How would you like to weigh in on what the most prevalent healthcare issues are on Cape Cod? Every person in Barnstable County is invited to do just that by participating in an online public survey that is the first part of Cape Cod Healthcare’s Community Health Needs Assessment & Implementation plan.
As a non-profit organization, Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) is committed to investing 3 to 5 percent of its net patient services revenue back to the community with a special focus on programs that meet the needs of the financially disadvantaged and underserved populations in the area.
“For Cape Cod Healthcare, that means between $25 and $30 million a year,” said Jennifer Cummings, associate director of Development & Community Benefits at the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation, CCHC’s charitable arm. “The bulk of that number is free care. Cape Cod Healthcare is our community’s health safety net and we do not turn people away when they come to our Emergency Rooms. But using last year’s numbers, another $7 million goes to all kinds of programs and services that benefit the community.”
As part of the process, every three years, Cape Cod Healthcare conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) to make sure they are addressing the real issues that people in the community are facing. This information helps guide the organization on where the investment will be the most helpful.
The process is implemented in three steps. Step one casts the widest net to get as many Cape residents as possible involved via a 15-minute survey. You can access the survey online or request a paper version. The survey is available in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Haitian Creole.
“We are in a really intensive community engagement process since this is going to be our blueprint to inform our community needs strategy for the next three years,” Cummings said. “We are really being intentional and purposeful, and we want to get everyone to the table at the beginning of the process. We want to make sure we’re getting as many diverse voices as possible.”
The second step will be a series of six focus groups to try to dig deeper into the issues that come up in the survey. The groups will include:
- A Falmouth group
- An Outer Cape group
- A Spanish-speaking group
- A Portuguese-speaking group
- A group of people from the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community
- A group of parents and caregivers of children with mental health needs.
“We selected the particular groups based on the uniqueness of the Cape and our population as well as some issues we are facing right now,” Cummings said. “COVID has exacerbated so many health and social issues in our community. It will be very interesting to see what comes out of this and hear directly from Cape Codders what issues are affecting their lives right now.”
The third step is a series of key interviews with stakeholders and subject matter experts on the Cape who are already on the ground working on the needs and issues in the community.
Once those three steps are done, a Community Health Committee will take all the data they’ve amassed and create a report that serves as a three-year blueprint for the years 2023-2025. The Community Health Committee includes as many different kinds of people in as many service areas of the Cape as possible, to serve as guides and advisors through the process.
The nuts and bolts of how the money actually reaches areas of need occurs on a yearly basis. CCHC asks for grant proposals from community groups and nonprofits that address one of the needs outlined in the CHNA. About $1 million is given out through these grants each year.
Some of the 2021 Community Benefits Grants recipients included:
- A Baby Center
- The AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod
- The Duffy Center
- The Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance
- The Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands
- Family Pantry of Cape Cod
- A fruit and vegetable subscription program with Sustainable Cape and Outer Cape Health.
“This annual funding can be transformational for our Cape non-profits,” Cummings said. “Folks can chime in now and really shape where this funding goes. This is our way to try to strategize and really move the needle on some of these big societal problems by investing in our community partners who are experts and who have been doing the work.”