Category: Health Magazine, Summer 2024

Title:Understanding community needs to improve health care

Author: Nowshin Chowdhury
Date Published: June 14, 2024

The young adult male graffiti clean-up organizer explains the project for the weekend.

Since 2012, the School of Health’s Department of Health Management and Policy has supported MedStar Health’s triennial Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). The purpose of the assessment is to identify and address the health needs of the underserved communities served by the system’s 10 hospitals in the mid-Atlantic region.

Georgetown School of Health students collect the primary data and synthesize the secondary data.

“Using mixed methods, the CHNA is a comprehensive investigation that provides insight on systemic conditions that prevent people from achieving optimal health,” says Dean Christopher J. King. “And on the other side of that, it is incumbent upon us to work with the communities to co-create interventions to make sustainable change to improve health outcomes.”

In recent years, student data collectors began to include questions around social justice, racism, discrimination, and issues related to being low income.

“Our reports now are much more holistic,” explains the dean. “Clearly, the healthcare sector cannot be solely responsible for the health of a community. Progress requires collective action across many sectors.”

The expanded 2024 report includes longitudinal analyses comparing data from the first CHNA report. It also captures the trends in health care over the years in the service areas.

According to King, one of the report’s key findings is that the age-adjusted death rate due to heart diseases and cancer has declined in all service areas since the first report was released in 2012.

dean christopher king
Dean Christopher J. King

Inspired to care for the community

Amelia Bedri (G’20) has worked on the CHNA report with King since graduating from the Master of Science in Health System Administration program. As a research assistant she analyzed the data for the 2021 report by herself during the pandemic.

“This year I’ve been grateful to have the support of undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Health,” says Bedri.

Bedri guided the students through the data collection and analysis process.

“It’s unfortunate that in the health care system you’re always working with older data,” says Bedri. “That’s why it’s important to get that survey. It’s going to be the best reflection of what people are going through.”

Bedri was born and raised in Las Vegas. Her parents immigrated from Ethiopia and started a business in personal home care, assisting the elderly in the community. It showed her that you can make an impact on one’s health care needs by leveraging the role of caregivers and their knowledge, trust, and support in a community.

Bedri wanted to practice in the DC community so she completed an internship with MedStar Georgetown and worked at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

After her first CHNA report was submitted, Bedri decided to pursue a career where she could be involved in the policies that can make an impact. She now works at the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Amelia Bedri (G’20)
Amelia Bedri (G’20)

“My role is to write accreditation standards. I try to always infuse the equity lens and think about what’s feasible for organizations, but they all need a push,” says Bedri.

Her role in consulting on MedStar’s CHNA report is just as important to her. The report is common for nonprofit hospitals across the nation, but Bedri emphasizes the importance of having a higher education partner who can look at the issues from a different perspective and help find solutions.

The full CHNA report can be found on the School of Health’s website.

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