Community Benefit

   Photo: children in cowboy hats with parents
Do you know how to talk to other adults about safe gun storage in homes where children visit and play? Virginia Mason pediatric clinics can help you start the conversation about firearm safety and safe storage.

Across the Puget Sound region, hospitals and health systems, public health organizations that provide social services and housing, community development agencies, and other groups have collaborated to address the underlying factors that impact residents’ health. Part of this work included the compilation of the region’s first Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in 2013, which was published by Hospitals for a Healthier Community (HHC).

Virginia Mason, a founding member of the HHC, used data from Public Health — Seattle & King County and other community organizations to develop and publish The Virginia Mason 2016–2018 CHNA. Using the assessment findings, the priority health needs of communities were identified and strategies were developed to address them.

Virginia Mason’s 2016–2018 CHNA findings indicate that priority health needs are access to health care, access to behavioral health care and solutions to avoid preventable causes of death.

Access to care

Lack of health insurance is common among young adults, people of color and low-income populations. For one in seven adults, cost is a barrier to seeking medical care. The goal is to provide assistance to the uninsured and underinsured, and provide clinical services through community benefit programs that include Project Access Northwest, the Edward Thomas Respite Care Program, the Graduate Medical Education/Public Health — Seattle & King County partnership, outreach to homeless and immigrant populations, financial assistance programs, partnerships with Healthier Washington and the Accountable Communities of Health, and participation in the Alliance of International Academic Medical Centers’ National Initiatives to improve health equity and reduce disparities in care.

Behavioral health

Access to behavioral health care and the need to integrate behavioral health with physical health care are critical concerns identified in the needs assessment. Work in this area includes providing support for the homeless clientele at Bailey-Boushay House.

Preventable causes of death

Providing solutions to obesity, poor access to appropriate nutrition and inadequate physical activity are top priorities. More than half of adults and one in five teens are overweight or obese. Virginia Mason continues to offer food and nutrition programs to vulnerable populations.

Awareness of suicide and firearm violence prevention is being raised as a public health issue to be addressed through partnerships, education and financial/outreach assistance. Through Virginia Mason pediatric clinics, parents and other guardians are educated about firearm safety, safe storage and how to communicate with other adults about safe gun storage in homes where children visit and play. Virginia Mason has also joined the Firearm Tragedy Prevention Network to provide firearm safety education events in the community.