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Barton Health

Barton Health Taking on the Community’s Well Being

Barton Health Taking on the Community’s Well Being

The Community Health Needs Assessment is a comprehensive report that highlights South Lake Tahoe’s most pressing health needs. It is based on data collected from community surveys, input from local service agencies, and national data. The top three issues identified in both the 2012 and 2015 Assessment were mental health, substance abuse, and access to care.

In 2012, after the first assessment was released, Barton Health partnered with medical and social service stakeholders, including the Community Health Advisory Committee and Lake Tahoe Collaborative, to create 20 action items to address the community’s most pressing health needs.

Some examples of steps Barton Health initiated include:
  • Funding health programs for the community. Between 2012 and 2015, the Barton Foundation has provided $125,000 in grants, $25,000 annually and $50,000 in 2015, to local projects that address substance abuse, mental health, and/or access to medical care.
  • Helping community members get health care. Barton certified enrollment counselors helped enroll 600 South Lake Tahoe residents enroll in Covered California.
  • Expanding medical services available. Barton Health hired a full-time urologist, two full-time medical social workers, and a full-time child psychiatrist. The Community Health Center expanded by 3,000 square feet and added seven exam rooms. In addition, Barton’s Telehealth services now include ten different specialties which allows patients to speak to specialists locally, saving time and travel.
  • Fighting drug addiction. Barton hosted a physician seminar and a separate six-session training on drug addiction and pain management practices for El Dorado County medical providers. Barton’s integrated pain management group continues to develop protocols and solutions with how to thoughtfully respond to acute and chronic pain patients.
  • Improving mental health collaboration. Barton Health hosted two mental health forums which included action items to address mental health issues in a short time span. Barton Health hosts a monthly mental health cooperative to outline a coordinated pathway for mental wellness, including mental health and substance abuse services. 
  • Being the community’s wellness advocate. Barton Health launched a community wellness program that includes free wellness lectures, articles by local medical providers with helpful tips, and reduced prices on wellness lab draws, screenings, and MRIs.
Significant progress has been made. Though the top three issues are the same in both the 2012 and 2015 Community Health Needs Assessments, but the reasons vary, particularly with access to care. With the launch of the Affordable Care Act, Barton donated more than 700 hours to help enroll uninsured families in a health care plan. As a result, between 2012 and 2015, the uninsured population in South Lake Tahoe lowered by almost 44% from 26.2% to 14.7%. Now that more residents are insured and annual check-ups are covered, we are seeing a greater demand for services and primary care providers.

A physician shortage is a national epidemic, and Barton Health is working quickly to recruit additional medical providers.

We are seeing progress with mental health issues and substance abuse, but it can take time to see results. A variety of mental health and substance abuse services are available and have increased on the South Shore. It can be a challenge to coordinate an individual’s care between agencies, particularly when services needed are in two separate counties or states. Barton Health worked with mental health agencies to create a process for Legal 2000, the ability to transfer mental health patients across state lines, which allows patients in need of in-patient psychiatric care better and expedited access to care. 

Sometimes people need guidance to the appropriate resources. Barton Health is currently developing a resource guide to outline the appropriate and local services available for mental wellness and substance abuse.

The Assessment also addresses positive health outcomes in the area. Many survey responders, 61.4%, met physical activity guidelines and 41.5% of adults and 72.0% of children had a “healthy weight,” with less adults and children considered overweight or obese compared to California, Nevada, or national levels. Physical activity and healthy weight go hand in hand, but it’s also a reflection of Tahoe’s outdoor opportunities and active culture. Our region also boasts a younger demographic; almost 40% of the region’s population is between ages 18 and 39.

With the results gathered from the Community Health Needs Assessment, the Community Health Advisory Committee will now prepare an action plan for the next three years to address the area’s most pressing health needs. The plan emphasizes community collaboration and relies on the diverse services and strengths within the community. Community partnerships are critical for achieving community-based solutions.

View the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment results and summary at bartonhealth.org/communityhealth.