The Affordable Care Act mandates that a Community Health Needs Assessment is done on all non-profit hospitals once every three years to help identify health needs. The new report from the Center for Rural Health and the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences says three-fourths of surveyed North Dakota communities are in need of healthcare workers.
"There is a shortage or at least a maldistribution in North Dakota for family medicine docs, but also providing primary care, our physician assistants, nurse practitioners..." says Center for Rural Health Associate Director Lynette Dickson.
That includes lab workers and medical professionals all across the board. The assessments included several methods including data research, focus groups, interviews and surveys of both professionals and patients.
"It was health professionals, it was the local board of directors, local community members," she says.
The Center for Rural Health has a website where it is easy to view and compare the most significant health needs of all the medical communities in the state of North Dakota. Once you get to the website, just click on the community that you're looking for.
After the needs have been identified, the Center for Rural Health works with the hospitals to make a plan. Dickson says for small communities,some of the biggest challenges are recruiting and retaining.
"Being able to tell their story and reach the people who genuinely value and believe in rural life," Dickson says.
In addition to helping with improvement ideas and grants to help put them into action, the Center for Rural Health is working with a state-wide effort to encourage medical students and professionals to consider rural practice.