WHS forms committees to address health issues

By Racey Burden | Published Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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Wise Health System recently completed its 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, and they’re looking for community feedback on how to improve health in Wise County, which is now ranked 42nd overall in health out of 243 Texas counties.

The CHNA is required under the Affordable Care Act and is used to evaluate the health needs of a community and to create strategies to address those needs. Following the 2017 CHNA, WHS has formed three committees to come up with those strategies: Healthy Behaviors Committee, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee and Healthcare Resource Awareness Committee. Anyone can join a committee, and those interested in participating should contact Jordan Holzbog at

“We want people in the community to give us a verbal commitment to partner with us,” said Paul Aslin, WHS’s chief population health officer and senior vice president of population health and health services integration. “If they want to be listed as a partner, they can be listed on our website. It’s not just for individuals but school districts, churches, small businesses.”

Each committee will tackle multiple needs identified by the CHNA, creating action plans to be implemented in the community.

The Healthy Behaviors Committee will evaluate the county’s No. 1 issue, obesity, as well diseases of the heart, physical inactivity, diabetes and poor nutrition. The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee will address lack of mental health services, alcohol and drug abuse and smoking. The Healthcare Resource Awareness Committee will look at lack of access to healthcare and the uninsured, the utilization of the emergency room for non-emergency care, lack of health education and transportation issues.

WHS wants to meet with the committees starting the week of Feb. 12. Each committee will establish a goal, metric, timeline and strategy for each issue that falls under its umbrella.

“The more participation we have, the better the outcome will be,” Holzbog, WHS’s manager of population and community health improvement, said.

Despite the issues that still need to be addressed, Aslin said WHS was pleased with the progress they saw from the last CHNA in 2014, especially in the areas of doctors’ hours and cost.

“The cost [of healthcare] went down. Part of that you may attribute to the local economy,” Aslin said. “We have extended hours at some clinics. We’re trying to recruit more providers to our clinics. By bringing in more providers, you open up access.”

In the County Health Rankings, Wise rose 101 spots to 87th in health behaviors from the 2014 rankings. It also rose to 72nd, up 48 spots, in clinical care, and to 17th, up 18 spots, in quality of life.

Wise’s rankings in socioeconomics fell 15 spots to 52nd. The ranking for physical environment fell 76 spots to 132nd, and length of life fell 18 spots to 100th.

According to, Wise improved in most areas, including the percentage of population with adult obesity and the teen birth rate and uninsured adult rate. The county’s premature deaths increased, and the population with at least some college decreased.

WHS sees the need for improvement in some areas but acknowledged the hospital doesn’t have control over every category that’s used to evaluate the county’s overall health. That’s where the partners step in.

“We need other people to help,” Aslin said. “The hospital and physicians can only do so much.

“The hope is we’ll get the public’s input to address what the needs are and let that be the start.”

To view the 2017 CHNA, visit

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