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Improving Health Through Shared Data

DSC_0051.JPGIt was a packed room at the Maine Shared Community Health Needs Assessment forum for Penobscot County on September 19 in Bangor. Here, folks representing dozens of state and local agencies along with healthcare organizations gathered to talk about the issues affecting the health of our communities and how we can work together to improve the lives of all Mainers.

We believe in making healthcare work better for every patient, which requires us to understand our communities and the factors that contribute to our health and wellbeing. The Maine Shared Community Health Needs Assessment, also known as CHNA (pronounced “China”), provides up-to-date health information at the state, county, urban, and sub-population levels with the intent to turn that data into actions that improve the health of all Maine people.

These robust reports filled with valuable (and interesting) information do not sit idly on some administrative office shelf collecting dust—far from it. Maine Shared CHNA partners hit the road and present this information to all who would like to attend the presentation and have a say in how health initiatives are prioritized around the state.

Doug Michael, Northern Light Health chief community health and grants officer said, “We want to share these data and get our neighbors’ input about what they see as our biggest health issues. New this year, the presentation will also include a list of past priorities and what our partners have been doing to address them. This is an exciting opportunity to discuss how we can improve the health of our community.”

DSC_0067.JPGThese forums take place throughout the state and create an opportunity for the public, law enforcement, municipal health departments, hospitals, health centers, and anyone with a vested interest in the health of Maine people to talk with one another and share ideas.

“We have the opportunity to network with folks from a variety of organizational backgrounds at the Maine Shared CHNA forums,” shared Nicole Hammar, manager of Community Health Improvement at Northern Light Health. “Simply talking about ways to leverage limited resources based on organizational ability has the potential to create stronger collaborations, focused on identified priorities, to ultimately improve the health of our communities.”

At Northern Light Health, our hospitals will use the Maine Shared CHNA information to set health priorities and action plans for their patients and communities, while at the same time tying into our system’s overarching health improvement initiatives. You can read up on what our hospitals have been working on since the last CHNA “cycle” for health improvement initiatives on our website at

The Maine Shared CHNA is conducted every three years and is a partnership—like no other in the nation—between Northern Light Health, MaineGeneral Health, Central Maine Healthcare, Maine Health, and Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Want to know more?
Download your local CHNA community health profile and find a forum near you at: