© 2022 WMRA and WEMC
WMRA : More News, Less Noise WEMC: The Valley's Home for Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Augusta Health finalizes triennial community needs assessment


Concerns about mental health and access to medical care are at the forefront of Augusta Health's latest community needs assessment. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

Every three years, Augusta Health in Fishersville conducts a community health needs assessment, surveying residents and healthcare providers in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.

One of many takeaways from the 2022 study is that local residents are having an increasingly difficult time getting healthcare when they need it. Back in 2016, just over a third of respondents said they'd experienced a delay or difficulty in getting care in the past year; this year, it was almost half. The most prominent barrier was landing a timely appointment.

Bruce Lockwood is PRC's vice president of community health.

BRUCE LOCKWOOD: 27.4% said there was a time in the past year when they needed medical care but they did not get it because they couldn't get an appointment when they needed it. Much higher than we see nationally.

Bruce Lockwood, senior vice president of community health with the firm Professional Research Consultants, or PRC, presented their preliminary findings virtually on Wednesday.

He said survey respondents also rated mental health as one of the most pressing problems in the area. 22% said their mental health was just fair or poor. 29% had been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, and 41% have experienced the symptoms of chronic depression.

LOCKWOOD: Each of these is significantly above national findings. That was true also in 2019. Demographically, we see women, younger adults, and communities of color really do appear to be at the greatest risk for some of these mental health indicators.

He also noted there are around 70 mental healthcare providers in the Staunton, Augusta, Waynesboro area; which was below the national average for practitioner-to-population ratios, but it is on par with the rest of Virginia.

The final report should be released in mid-August, and the document will be available on Augusta Health's website.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.