The Palo Pinto General Hospital Board of Directors is looking for better ways of providing service to the people of Palo Pinto County, according to J.C. Colton, president of the PPGH board.
The April 1 board meeting involved a teleconference with Dick Sweeden of Torch Management Services Inc. in which they discussed the results of the community needs assessment that was conducted  Dec. 4 and 5, 2013, and Jan. 14.
In order to institute a plan for the future, PPGH reached out to the community for feedback. The results of those surveyed in the study showed that three principle areas of concern are obesity, diabetes and nutrition.
 According to Harris Brooks, PPGH CEO, the survey included six anonymous physicians; focus groups which included the city manager Lance Howerton; Dr. Gail Haterius, Mineral Wells Independent School District Superintendent; Bart Freeman with PecoFacet; the Ministerial Alliance; PPGH department heads and its executive team; the medical staff and auxiliary; and a cross-section of 250 people from the Mineral Wells area.
 Brooks said that working with information that is received in feedback from the surveys, they can better determine the best resolution for how the hospital can partner with others to manage the increasing health care issues surrounding chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, hypertension, cancer, arthritis, drug abuse and congestive heart failure.

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Colton said that the hospital is seeking to improve continual overall communication between business leaders, senior citizens, the school district, auxiliary, the city manager, the ministerial alliance working through the churches, the Hispanic community, hospital department heads and the executive team, and other organizations. Working together, they must develop new strategies to target those needs in the community and it is of great importance in maintaining the health and well-being of those who have major health issues in the community that the community itself has input on these issues because the hospital cannot bear the entire burden of responsibility alone, he stressed.
Colton added that PPGH, in its’ ongoing efforts to upgrade the services which are being provided, including the new medical office building still under construction, the mobile clinic, the hospitalist program, the commitment of personalized care rendered by the staff, emergency care, the medical helicopter service and the specialists currently available in the area, there are many improvements that have been made in the last 10 years, but, there are still some areas of concern.
“Providing education on major health topics such as adult and child nutrition, disease management and promoting a healthy lifestyle, with exercise and nutrition being key factors, is considered to be a priority by PPGH,” stated Colton, and he continued, “and working together with the school district, they can help to educate children on nutritional values and the aspects of healthier lifestyle choices, which in the long run is a preventative of some chronic diseases”.
The current data the study provided shows that the adult diabetes rate in Palo Pinto County is 9.2 percent, with Texas’ overall rate of 8.9 percent. Adult obesity is at a 29.2 percent rate for the county, and 26.6 percent for Texas; and the low-income, pre-school obesity rate is 18.7 percent as compared to 15.7 percent in Texas. The studies showed that both obesity and diabetes are important risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease.
Colton said that the community’s perception for the need for more primary care providers is of major concern for PPGH. Providing physician access locally for additional specialty clinics, such as orthopedics and nephrology, finding physicians that will accept Medicare/Medicaid patients and worker’s compensation insurance, and those physicians who will provide care for the senior population, are key factors in providing for the overall needs of this community, so they do not have to go elsewhere for their health care needs.