Barry Plunkett with Horne LLP speaks with Neshoba County residents about their local healthcare needs. Plunkett was the facilitator for Neshoba County General Hopital’s Community Health Planning Initiative forum held Tuesday evening at the Depot.
Barry Plunkett with Horne LLP speaks with Neshoba County residents about their local healthcare needs. Plunkett was the facilitator for Neshoba County General Hopital’s Community Health Planning Initiative forum held Tuesday evening at the Depot.
A healthcare forum inspired by the Affordable Care Act will bring a more intense focus on heart, cancer and diabetic care along with lifestyle, wellness and education services locally.

Neshoba County General Hospital hosted the Community Health Forum last week at the Depot that had included an  online survey.

The purpose of the meeting was to get community input on the hospital’s Community Health Planning Initiative and answer questions from citizens regarding healthcare needs.

Neshoba General CEO Lee McCall said that over the past few years the hospital has been able to add services, including, for instance, oncology.

McCall said that the hospital is always working to bring additional services and that they are currently evaluating both cardiology and orthopedic programs.

Barry Plunkett with Horne LLP acted as the facilitator for the forum.  Plunkett said the Community Health Needs Assessment occurs in part because of the Affordable Care Act. Horne is a Ridgeland-based CPA and business advisory firm.

Part of the goal is to get people in the U.S. to think differently about healthcare. He said that while non-profit hospitals are required to perform such assessments, public hospitals like Neshoba General are not required to perform such assessments, although he said that it was a good idea the hospital decided to conduct the assessment.

Plunkett said that in many cases people take better care of their cars and homes with respect to preventative maintenance than they do their own bodies.

To prove this point he asked the crowd how many of them have had their oil changed or tires rotated recently versus who’d seen their primary care physician. The number of oil changes were significantly more than those who had seen a doctor.

Plunkett then provided some statistics relating to the leading causes of death nationwide, in Mississippi and in Neshoba County. According to Plunkett, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death nationwide, but there are some significant differences between the county and national figures.

Specifically, diabetes ranks highly among people in Neshoba County, he said, and the county has a much larger percentage of deaths attributable to motor vehicle accidents than the national average.

Plunkett said that generally living in a rural community is less healthy than living in an urban community and noted that the life expectancy rates for both men and women are higher in urban areas.

One of the reasons, he said, is the disparity in access to good healthcare. He noted though that even in rural areas of Mississippi access was not as big a problem as it might be in other areas, specifically the mountain west. He did say, however, that diet plays a major role in the life expectancy figures for Mississippians.

Later in the meeting McCall produced the results of the survey that citizens could fill out as part of the initiative. He said that as of Tuesday night, 155 surveys had been completed.

He said that 85 percent of respondents answered “yes” to whether or not they have used health services in the last 12 months. Also, 56 percent said that they or a family member is living with a chronic disease. Over 90 percent of respondents said that they get their medical information from the Internet.

McCall said that the majority of respondents mentioned a fitness center when asked about the types of programs might benefit them. He also said that the majority of respondents brought up substance abuse, cardiology and classes for information on other diseases as programs they felt were needed in the county.

McCall said that after the forum last week the steering committee met and came up with the core future strategic action that includes the diabetic services.

“Right now we are developing strategic actions around those five that we plan to put into action in the next three years,” McCall said, adding that the hospital hopes to have a report published in June regarding proposed future actions. He said that the community forum was a positive step in the process of providing the most community focused services the hospital could provide.

“Unless we go out and talk with the community about what they want we will not know how best to serve them,” he said. “This is our community’s hospital. We want people to have a stake in it and take ownership in it.”