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Spotlight on Community Health: GRHIC PhD Research Assistants Complete Elbert Memorial Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment

The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) is proud to announce the completion of a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for Elbert Memorial Hospital in Elberton.

Anne Montgomery, PhD, and Chris Scoggins, DrPH, both of GRHIC, led the assessment with Mercer University School of Medicine Rural Health Sciences PhD program graduate assistants. CHNA activities were spearheaded by PhD students Alika Croy, Taliyah Henderson, and Laura Ross from August 2023 to May 2024.

The CHNA is vital for rural hospitals, like Elbert Memorial, because they provide critical insights into the health challenges faced by the local population. All 501(c)(3) not-for-profit hospitals must complete the CHNA.

The goal of Elbert Memorial Hospital’s assessment is to offer a purposeful understanding of the most significant health and social needs in the hospital’s service area, which covers eight counties. Research assistants gathered information on unmet health needs and service gaps through multiple channels. Findings from the report will be used to identify, develop, and focus hospital, health system, and community initiatives and programming to better serve the health and wellness needs of community residents.

The CHNA took a meticulous approach, combining data collection, community engagement activities, and thorough analysis of secondary data. Key Informant interviews, focus groups, community surveys, and hospital leadership team meetings were the key methods used to ensure a comprehensive assessment of Elberton’s health landscape.

Key health priorities were identified through findings from focus groups, key informant interviews, windshield surveys, and the community needs assessment survey. These priority areas represent opportunities for engagement and improvement for the community and hospital. They are not an exact representation of all of the region’s diverse needs; however, they serve as a collective representation of the assets, needs and concerns of those living in the hospital’s service area.

Community members highlighted health care accessibility, health care utilization, socio-economic and socio-ecological factors impacting health, collective concern for safety, commitment to overall well-being as concerns for the future.

The successful completion of Elbert Memorial Hospital’s CHNA is attributed not only to the hard work of the research assistants but also to the active participation of the Elberton community. Residents’ willingness to share their experiences and insights was invaluable in painting an accurate picture of local health needs.

Moving forward, GRHIC and Elbert Memorial Hospital are committed to continuing this collaborative approach. Regular follow-up assessments and community forums will be held to ensure ongoing engagement and responsiveness to emerging health needs.

Elbert Memorial Hospital and the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center would like to thank the following entities for their support of the Community Health Needs Assessment. The invaluable support from these entities helped to ensure the robust nature of this report.

  • Elbert Public Library
  • Elbert County Chamber of Commerce
  • Elbert Memorial Hospital Auxiliary
  • Elbert Memorial Hospital, Wellness Center
  • Georgia Hospital Association
  • Georgia State Office of Rural Health
  • Mercer University, School of Medicine

For more information about the CHNA and upcoming health initiatives in Elberton, please contact the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center or contact Elbert Memorial Hospital directly.