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Department of Health Services

Introduction & Background

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Community health needs assessments serve a central role in supporting hospitals, practitioners,nd policy-makers to identify the greatest health needs in their communities. Recognizing that most needs are complex and require collaboration and multiple solutions, needs assessments establish the essential foundation for vital planning that can focus health care and community benefit resources to address health care disparities and maximize health improvement.

Since 1994, California State law has required not-for-profit hospitals in California to assess community health every three years and to use that assessment as the basis for community benefit planning and coordination.


Health Needs Assessment. The Sonoma County Health Alliance (SCHA) was formed in 2000 with the goal of improving the health of Sonoma County through collaboration among the many health systems and providers in the county. SCHA’s Community Health Improvement Committee (CHIC), a partnership of the three local hospitals, Sutter Medical Center, Saint Joseph Health Sonoma County and Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa, and the Sonoma County Department of Health Services have collaboratively conducted the Sonoma County Community Health Needs Assessment this Committee, partnering with other health care, education and social services organizations has led many important community health improvement projects, including expanding access to health services, developing new resources to address obesity and oral health, supporting workforce development efforts, and working to prevent unintentional injuries, HIV/AIDS, food-borne illnesses and mortality from various diseases.

Health Needs Assessment 2001 Major issues identified by the 2001 Assessment were community concerns about access to health services and the need for diversity in the health care workforce. This focus resulted in the Healthcare Workforce Development Roundtable and a partnership with Santa Rosa Junior College to offer ongoing educational, scholarship and training programs to increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce in Sonoma County. The data collected in the 2001 Assessment also raised concerns about the safety of Sonoma County’s senior citizens.

Health Needs Assessment 2005 analyzed a broad spectrum of community health issues, with a particular focus on the rapidly growing senior population. The assessment led to collaboration with the Area Agency on Aging and the establishment of the Senior Safety Task Force focusing on a variety of senior needs, including a countywide implementation of evidence based fall prevention programs.

Community Health Needs Assessment 2008 shifted the focus to issues related to the health and well being of Sonoma County children. The assessment and recommendations for improvement addressed fundamental issues such as access to dental care, childhood weight and physical fitness, support for healthy lifestyle choices and the impact of substance abuse on child and teen development.

Community Health Needs Assessment 2011 continued the focus on the four issues (above) facing children and highlighted the expanded activities and efforts with the founding of Health Action and its data-driven agenda to improve the health of Sonoma County residents through individual, local and countywide measures. The assessment explored Health Care Reform’s potential impact on the service delivery system, care coordination and prevention services.