Have you ever considered the difference between listening and hearing?
They sound similar, but there’s an important distinction.
Hearing is simply the perception of sound. It’s a passive thing. Listening is making sense of what you hear. It takes thought and intention. I’m hearing your voice when you’re talking to me, but I’m listening to you when I’m thinking about and remembering what you’re saying.
One of our values at Children’s Minnesota is “Listen, really listen.” Listening to the kids and families we serve, listening to our colleagues. It builds trust and relationships. It helps us learn how we can best help kids be as healthy as possible.
That’s the idea behind the Community Health Needs Assessment. Every three years we’re required as a non-profit hospital to get feedback from community partners, families and staff on where we need to focus our efforts so they can thrive. We’ve just posted the 2022 assessment online if you’d like to take a look.
The assessment is an important part of our work because most of what shapes children’s health happens outside of hospitals and doctors’ offices. Children’s health is largely shaped by the conditions in which they live, learn, work, play, worship and age.
In 2019, our communities identified five priorities:
- Structural racism
- Health disparities
- Economic opportunity and income
- Mental health and developmental well-being
- Access to resources
The 2022 health needs assessment uncovered something new. Our communities identified the same five priorities above, as well as a sixth: community safety. And that’s no surprise. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says in 2021, violent crime increased 21% statewide. In 2020, statistics showed for the first time that guns are the leading killer of American kids.
All of these issues are threats to children’s health. That’s why it is up to us at Children’s Minnesota, and our community and government partners, to address them. We are listening to our community; the Community Health Needs Assessment is a great tool to help us do that. Listening is just the first step. Now comes the bigger challenge: addressing the health needs identified. How to build on the work we’ve already started; how to build on the assets in our communities. This is what we’ll be focusing on over the next few months; fine tuning our action plan. And later this year, we’ll share our plan with the community, so please stay tuned.