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Hospitals, community organizations work together to CHIP away at health issues 


YNHH’s Get Heathy CT Walk n’ Talk events are part of the hospital’s Community Health Improvement Plan. Walks are held in several area towns and offer residents an opportunity to exercise while chatting with local healthcare professionals.

This past June, the Connecticut Food Bank brought its Mobile Pantry truck to the lot of the former Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing on Mill Hill Avenue. The pantry has returned once a month since, with people lining up to fill two shopping bags apiece with free, nutritious food. In its first six months at the Mill Hill location, the pantry served 1,025 families.

“People have come in pouring rain; they came during a heat wave this past summer,” said Nancy Hamson, system director of Community Health Improvement, Yale New Haven Health. “I’m glad we’re helping to meet a need, but it’s distressing that so many people don’t have enough food.”

The Mobile Pantry’s monthly visits grew out of a Community Health Needs Assessment that involved Bridgeport Hospital and other organizations in the Greater Bridgeport Health Improvement Alliance.

Every three years, all five YNHHS delivery networks join with similar alliances to complete Community Health Needs Assessments for cities and towns in their areas. The assessments identify health issues and factors called social determinants that affect people’s health and well-being. The most common social determinants – in YNHHS delivery network regions and communities nationwide – are related to food, transportation, mental health services, housing and education. YNHHS’ assessments included “community conversations” with residents about how health issues and social determinants affect them personally.

“Understanding the health status of a community – and the multitude of factors that influence health – are important in identifying priorities for future planning and funding, existing strengths and assets to build on, and areas for further collaboration and coordination across our system, other organizations, institutions and community groups,” Hamson said.

Using data from the Community Health Needs Assessments, YNHHS delivery networks and other organizations develop Community Health Improvement Plans (CHIPs) to address major unmet needs. The Mobile Food Pantry at Bridgeport Hospital came from that region’s CHIP. Yale New Haven Hospital is part of a similar CHIP effort, partnering with a food pantry to provide free health screenings, education and healthy food options. Greenwich Hospital ran a program to teach healthy cooking and healthy choices to community youth. Westerly Hospital recently contributed to Habitat for Humanity efforts in its service area; and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital has supported development of a New London urban agriculture plan.

While the needs assessments and CHIPs are specific to each region, YNHHS’ Community Health Improvement department is exploring ways to align efforts across the health system.

Read YNHH's 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment