The community was invited to give their input on health care in Butler County during a town hall meeting Thursday evening sponsored by Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital.

The community was invited to give their input on health care in Butler County during a town hall meeting Thursday evening sponsored by Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital.

“We’re going to take back the input to make action plans to benefit the community,” said Gayle Arnett, SBA president and CEO.

SBA had partnered with the Health Department and South Central Mental Health to do this study, which was required by IRS of non-profit hospitals.

The Health Department had to do a needs assessment to become accredited.

“Part of having a strong community is having a healthy community,” said Dan Rice, with SCMH.

To do this study, they brought in a consultant, Vince Vandehaar, with VVV Marketing and Development.

“This is a conversation with the community,” he said.

The purpose was to look at health related trends and issues, federal guidelines, and to develop strategies.

A Community Health Needs Assessment was completed through surveys taken by community members.

Vandehaar said of 15 of these assessments he has done, Butler County had the best response to the survey.

That information was put together and presented at the town hall meeting.

He told those attending to think about all aspects of health care from home care and primary care to acute and end of life care. Their goal Thursday evening was to prioritize community needs.

Vandehaar presented information on where Butler County ranks among other counties in the state on several areas, including age, households, how long in a residence, travel to work, poverty, crime and more.

Looking at economic trends, the county has 5.7 percent unemployment, with 9.9 percent of the children living below poverty level.

One area the county received high marks was in school screenings for vision, hearing and oral.

“We have a lot of students getting screened,” he said.

But there is not much follow-up on those screenings by parents.

The schools also have 80 to 90 percent on free and reduced lunches and a graduation rate of 91 percent.

Looking at maternal information, the county scored in the bottom one-third on mothers smoking while pregnant and unmarried births.

They also looked at hospital discharge data and physicians.

“It looks like we need primary care physicians,” he said of the information gathered. “Do we need more physicians?”

He did point out the county numbers included Andover and Rose Hill, while those did not fall in the coverage area for SBA so there was some discrepancy in the numbers.

They went on to look at the behavior health profile, including substance abuse, mental health and food assistance. These were all state numbers and did not include private providers.

Risk indicators in the study included obesity, smoking, excessive drinking suicides, traffic injuries and more.

They also saw that 13 percent are uninsured.

“This is impacting healthcare because people may not receive healthcare if they are worried about insurance,” Vanderhaar sad.

Relating to this, SBA had $4.6 million in bad debt last year and gave $2.6 million in charity care.

Looking at the mortality profile, heart disease is the number one cause of death, but there is a higher than average incidents of cancer and more smoking.

Other concerns included limited access to healthy foods.

For youth, only 66.2 percent of kids at 24 months are getting all of their shots required. There also were below normal numbers of those getting flu shots.

“Basically 75 percent are happy with the quality of healthcare in your county,” Vanderhaar said.

Next, Vanderhaar asked for some audience input, requesting they write down what they see as healthcare strengths and areas for improvement, then they shared those ideas for a master list.

“I want to make a tremendous list of our health strengths,” he said.

Some of the strengths mentioned included SBA, the EMS and SBA working together, multiple outdoor activities, wellness programs by major employers, screenings for students, high graduation rates, SBA’s chest pain care certification, diversity of services, Butler Community College’s education in healthcare, free or reduced cost services at the hospital, compliance with immunization for school age children, per capita income, hospice care access, food programs, stable housing, low unemployment compared to the state, proximity to Wichita for specialists, free and reduced family planning services at the health department, large number of faith-based assistance programs, specialty services, extension office, income-based fees at the YMCA, WIC program, breast feeding program, aging transportation and number of elderly living independently.

Those things they thought could be improved or changed included: compliance with shots at 24 months, better access to health care for low income, follow-up on school screenings, increase number of primary care physicians particularly in Augusta, emergency services, mental health and substance abuse programs, more mammography screenings, prenatal care, teen pregnancy, dental care for low income, access to healthy foods, fitness to focus on obesity, more choices for health foods at restaurants, high cancer care, drug/alcohol support services, education to lower number of STDs, more access to insurance, increased education on smoking when pregnant, flu vaccines, ER/sexual assault room, affordable housing/homeless shelter, healthcare transportation, lower free and reduced meals, increased school nurse role, long work days, increased home-based elderly care, after hour immediate care and child care options.

After the lists were compiled, everyone had four votes they could cast for their top priorities.

Vanderhaar was then going to take that information back and put it together into a written report, which will be submitted to the IRS, as well as be available on the SBA Web site.