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Hospitals say mental health, addiction central Ohio’s top concern

July 1, 2019

A report by the Central Ohio Hospital Council identifies Franklin County’s biggest health challenges as mental health and addiction; income and poverty; and maternal and infant health.

The three priorities are detailed in the “Franklin County Health Map 2019: Navigating Our Way to a Healthier Community Together,” which was publicly released Wednesday.

The report was built by the Central Ohio Hospital Council, pulling together members Mount Carmel Health System, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, OhioHealth and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to identify what the community most needs.

“That’s the Columbus way. We are more collaborative than competitive and every single health-care system is committed to making sure people reach their optimal health,” said Patty McClimon, senior vice president of strategic and facilities planning at Nationwide Children’s. “There’s no point for us to compete. ... The most important piece is the commitment to the common goal.”

It was no surprise that mental health and addiction and maternal and infant health were identified as priorities, but income and poverty was a little unexpected, said Jeff Klingler, hospital council president and CEO.

“That’s really great to have the community thinking about that as a health need,” Klingler said, pointing to other “social determinants” of health such as access to food, secure housing, employment and reliable transportation. “If we’re truly going to improve health, we’ve got to improve the other aspects of people’s lives.”

The report meets a federal Affordable Care Act requirement that every hospital conduct a community needs assessment every three years, Klingler said. Hospitals also are tasked with developing individual strategic plans to address the needs.

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