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Housing, health care, and mental health and substance misuse are most pressing health needs in 10-county Southwest Idaho region

On July 11 at JUMP Boise, St Luke’s Community Health and Engagement team convened more than 90 representatives from dozens of nonprofit organizations from as far as Weiser, Wood River, McCall and everywhere in between for their Community Health Improvement Fund Celebration.
By Christine Myron, Notes and Announcements
July 20, 2023

Safe, affordable housing, access to affordable healthcare and mental health and substance use disorder treatment are the most pressing health needs in a 10-county region home to more than half of Idaho’s residents, a new joint assessment finds. The Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is a multi-agency initiative convened by the Western Idaho Community Health Collaborative (WICHC) with key participation and funding from regional partner organizations like Central District Health, Southwest District Health, Saint Alphonsus Health System, St. Luke’s Health System, United Way of the Treasure Valley, Intermountain Health, and Weiser Memorial Hospital. The ten counties assessed were Ada, Elmore, Boise, Valley, Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington.

In the past, each organization conducted its own assessment every three years per a federal requirement. For the first time in Idaho’s history, the data has been gathered as a joint community effort putting the organizations on the same assessment cycle. This unprecedented partnership is significant because they are collaborating to research and tackle pervasive issues in the community and avoid duplicating efforts, potentially leading to more successful outcomes and a greater impact. This collaborative approach included substantial community input and utilized a social determinants of health (SDoH) framework to determine priority areas. The priorities that emerged from this year’s report are:

  • safe, affordable housing and homelessness
  • behavioral health, including mental health and well-being, and substance misuse
  • access to affordable health care, including oral and vision health

The Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is available in PDF form HERE. This year, there will also be a companion site, the Idaho Oregon Community Health Atlas. It is a new, public-facing data portal that is currently live and all features will be available by the end of July. The Health Atlas allows residents, community organizations, policymakers, researchers and public health stakeholders to access and use data, to understand health disparities and drive change within their communities, as well as for grant writing and planning purposes.

The new online resource, powered by Metopio, publishes data about hundreds of indicators in the community, and makes that data available in visualizations like maps, charts, graphs and tables. The tool makes it easy to assess drivers of health for the community and prioritize data-informed actions that address social determinants of health. The online hub also provides a one-stop shop to view the learnings and insights from key counties’ community health needs assessments.

Alexis Pickering, Health Strategist with both the Central and Southwest health districts says, "History shows us that we can’t accomplish the most urgent challenges of our community by going it alone. This is a major, critical endeavor that shows how serious these collaborative partners are about addressing community needs in unprecedented ways, and having shared metrics on community priorities so we can build and sustain a healthy region."

“Saint Alphonsus is proud to collaborate with our partner health systems to identify the strengths, opportunities, and the greatest needs in the Treasure Valley as told to us by the residents themselves. This report will give us the collective data to understand how we can lean in to support our communities in not just surviving, but thriving,” said Rebecca Lemmons, Community Health and Well-Being Director at Saint Alphonsus Health System.

Lisa Nichols, Associate Vice President of Community Health at Intermountain Health says, “Intermountain Health is excited to collaborate with community partners to understand the needs of our community and develop programs to address those needs. The mission of Intermountain Health is helping people live the healthiest lives possible. Participating in this Community Health Needs Assessment help us best understand the needs of our community and act to fulfill our mission.”

“The new collaborative approach for this needs assessment is transformational for our communities. It allowed us to not only pool resources for more robust and efficient data collection but will also guide collaborative action amongst partners working in alignment to address common priority needs.  This collective attention will create a significant impact in our communities,” said Angie Gribble, St. Luke’s senior director of community health and engagement.”

Addressing complex community needs is possible when we take a collective approach. The organizations are now continuing to work together to use the data to create an implementation strategy and plan by the end of the year to determine how to best address the priority areas identified by the joint assessment. This plan will be Idaho’s first shared implementation plan that will coordinate and direct activities from all the partner agencies. To get involved, contact WICHC via

About The Author

Christine Myron is the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.