Execute Your CHNA and Improve Community Health
One sentence in the Federal Register requirement for CHNAs (page 19, section 6, paragraph E) calls for “a description of the resources potentially available to address the significant health needs identified through the CHNA.” While this one line may seem innocuous at face value, after 9 years of performing CHNAs, I’ve seen this one little sentence take on significant importance in improving the health of communities.
Initially, this requirement was seen as just that, a requirement. However, communities are now seeing how little cross-communication of community resources takes place and how critical this communication is to providing valuable health resources to their residents. Hospitals and communities are beginning to use the Community Asset Inventory as an online catalog for community members who need access to practical, helpful health resources.
What is a Community Asset Inventory?
A Community Asset Inventory is a paper or digital record of the health-related resources available to your community. It can include everything from a doctor’s office, to a soup kitchen, to a clothes closet, to transportation, to your government representatives, to community gardens and food pantries. The goals of a Community Asset inventory are to:
Identify who is providing products or services that could promote or improve the health of the community
Document their contact information, key offerings, and availability
Make the data collected easily accessible on the web for city council members, county commissioners, health providers, social services, and other entities motivated to improve community health
Why is a Community Asset Inventory Useful?
At a recent community health summit, the CEO of a hospital said, “I had no idea we had this many resources in our community.” After making this discovery, he and his team are now committed to making all the resources in their Community Asset Inventory widely known throughout the community.
Sometimes strategies to improve community health aren’t new, big, whiz-bang ideas, but small ideas—like using the resources that are currently available or making the resources currently available more accessible and more known in the community. More and more, one of the primary topics at community meetings is, “what resources are available in the community to address our community health issues?” A Community Asset Inventory is useful because it highlights and brings attention to the great resources already accessible and available within your community—promoting the use of promising and valuable opportunities that may not be getting utilized to their full potential. Additionally, this resource can play a key role in motivating organizations to work together more closely toward widespread health improvement, rather than remaining siloed and focused on the health of their niche.
As a reflection of the increasing interest in this resource listing, Stratasan’s Community Asset Inventory has increased over time from being a five to six page document to often being 20 pages or more. It is now a totally separate document that is being shared around communities in the hopes that it will promote health-related offerings.
Take a look at your Community Asset Inventory (sometimes referred to as a Community Resource Guide) and see if it is comprehensive enough for a community member to find and access whatever health-related services they may need. Consider some of these questions as you make your determination:
Is your resource guide available in paper form throughout the community as well as online?
Is the digital version shared in multiple places (social services agencies, churches, hospitals, doctor’s offices, dentists, food pantries) where it's accessible to everyone?
Do all agencies have the list to use and distribute?
Is it revisited quarterly to ensure it is up-to-date?
Is there a form to edit and add to the inventory?
Have you interfaced with all of your community stakeholders to determine the most effective way to make use of or share the resources outlined in your inventory?
As you consider the time, resources, and expense involved with creating a CHNA and Community Asset Inventory, realistically assess if your internal team is prepared to handle all that comes with this undertaking. When done properly, these resources can provide long-lasting value to your community, so it is worth the effort to do them right. If you know your team is not equipped for this task, then an outside partner could likely be your best option. Contact Stratasan for more information about how we can help you create a CHNA and Community Asset Inventory that can benefit your community in many ways for years to come. You can also reach out to me, Lee Ann Lambdin, directly for more information at 866-628-5051 x 706.