Assessing health needs of Somerset County
William L. Wilson, Healthier Somerset
January 29, 2018

In February, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset in Somerville will kick off a community health needs assessment (CHNA) of Somerset County.

Partnering with Healthier Somerset, researchers will begin to gather data on the needs of community residents by compiling existing data and conducting telephone surveys, focus groups and interviews with many county leaders and organizations. These include community and faith-based organizations, health care providers, law enforcement, government, education, business and social service organizations.

Community health needs assessments create an important opportunity to improve the health of communities. They ensure that hospitals and other agencies have the information they need to provide community benefits or services that meet the needs and address the issues.

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“In public health, the process of Community Needs Assessments is an invaluable tool for improving the public in solving problems and developing goals,” said Paul Masaba, director of public health and health officer for the Somerset County Department of Health.

“It helps to gather accurate information representative of the needs of the community, and the depth of the assets available within the community to address those needs.  Ultimately, this process can prove helpful to strategically plan and deliver relevant, successful and timely services to the community.”

“For hospitals, Community Health Needs Assessments also provide an opportunity to improve coordination of hospital services with other initiatives to improve the community’s health,” added Serena Collado, director of community health at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.

“The assessment should include individuals and organizations that represent a comprehensive and diverse perspectives of the community served by the hospital facility, including those with special knowledge of or expertise in public health.”

A kickoff meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the Steeplechase Cancer Center to discuss the community health needs assessment process, gather data, review hospital utilization statistics and review time frames for completion.

Healthier Somerset encourages residents and organizations that serve all those who live and work in Somerset County to participate in the Community Health Needs Assessment by attending the February 20 meeting.

For more information on the CHNA or Healthier Somerset, visit

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