Strategic Initiatives and Process for Public Participation


Community Health Needs Assessment

In keeping with the formal organizational values of “partnerships” and “our people, our community,” as well as our belief in openness, inclusiveness, and transparency, NMC strives to provide multiple opportunities for public input in the hospital’s current services and our plans for the future. The goal is to foster discussion with community members in various formats relating to the health of the community, needs in the community, hospital services, and opportunities for improvement within our hospital and our local health care system.

Collaboratively Assessing and Addressing Community Needs & Priorities: Our community has a strong history of collaboratively assessing and addressing community health needs and priorities.  Building upon this shared commitment to a healthier community, NMC complied with the Federal mandate and completed “The Community Health Needs Assessment” in 2022/24. The new 2022/24 Community Health Needs Assessment for Franklin and Grand Isle counties (NMC’s service area) was conducted in the Spring of 2022 by NMC and community partners with facilitation by The Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont. Top priorities identified include:

  • Access to Care
  • Affordability
  • Community Gathering and Connectedness
  • Safety and Belonging

This assessment was also considered as foundational data during NMC’s work to develop our Strategic Plan. Click here to read the 2022/2024 Community Health Needs Assessment.

The assessment was adopted by the NMC Board of Directors in June of 2022. Working through the newly forming Accountable Communities for Health (ACH), NMC has created an implementation plan to address priorities within the assessment. That plan is posted here on the CHNA page on our website. 

Annual Progress Report on CHNA 

Action plans to address the priorities of the most recent CHNA have been developed and are being implemented by NMC and other organizations – both individually and collaboratively. The full CHNA document carries those action plans.

NMC and community partners are in the first year of implementation of the 2021/22 CHNA. Click here for a progress report from May 2023. 

Achieving Openness, Inclusiveness, and Meaningful Public Participation

Achieving Openness, Inclusiveness, and Meaningful Public Participation: NMC uses a variety of strategies to formally and informally engage the community in our own strategic planning efforts, decision making, and efforts to improve the health of our community:

  • The Patient and Family Advisory Council, created in 2023. Learn more here. 
  • Patient satisfaction/Engagement surveys of hospital and hospital-employed-physician-practice patients to measure the patients’ perceptions of their care and identify opportunities for improvement;
  • The meetings of the NMC Incorporators, a 150-member group of geographically representative individuals from throughout our service area who elect the NMC Board, approve hospital bylaw changes, and serve as direct connections to the pulse of the community;
  • A variety of community discussions in various formats relating to hospital plans and activities, community needs and priorities, and health care topics;
  • Community perceptions surveys, typically administered in keeping with the NMC strategic planning process or community health assessment efforts, to ascertain what the community knows about their local hospital-based healthcare resources, how they feel about those resources, what could be improved, and what is needed (most recent completed in May of 2022);
  • The availability of open public comment sessions at NMC Board Meetings on a scheduled basis;
  • Personal contact facilitated through direct community involvement by hospital Staff, Board, and Medical Staff as volunteer members of local Boards, initiatives, and organizations;
  • Personal contact facilitated through the geographic distribution of NMC Board Members and hospital staff.

NMC also gathers valuable public input through participation in community planning events by representatives of the NMC staff. These public meetings are typically focused on planning what the community can do in areas outside the direct provision of healthcare (such as food insecurity, crime and public safety, transportation needs, environmental conservation, Vermont’s energy future, etc). NMC participates as both a major employer and a healthcare provider, maintaining an active ear for opportunities in terms of “what can the hospital do” that may be supportive of the community’s efforts. These ideas are then funneled into the hospital’s short-term and long-term planning, creating a multi-directional planning channel that directly links the hospital to the community’s own efforts. NMC engages the community through our role in a wide variety of community partnerships and initiatives. We take great pride in the community involvement by our staff as individuals as well as the formal involvement of NMC as an organization. The following is a sampling of the broader groups in which NMC participates within our community as an organization:

  • The CAIRES ACH (Accountable Communities for Health); 
  • The Franklin Grand Isle Community Partnership;
  • The United Way of Northwestern Vermont (as a partner and supporter, not as a member agency);
  • EMS District 1;
  • The Franklin Grand Isle Work Force Investment Board;
  • The Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation;
  • The St. Albans Rotary Club;
  • The Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, NMC also engages the community in our efforts by welcoming their active participation in the hospital, through:

  • Service as an NMC Volunteer (more than 70 active volunteers, contributing over 8,000 hours – numbers which reflect reductions due to the pandemic).
  • Service as an NMC Auxilian (more than 300 members);
  • Service as an NMC Incorporator (nearly 150 members);
  • Service as an NMC Staff Member (more than 800 employees);
  • Service as an NMC Physician and Advanced Practice Provider (more than 100 Active staff); and
  • Service as an NMC Board Member (up to 12 members).

NMC’s Strategic Planning Efforts

NMC’s Board, Medical Executive Committee, and Leadership Team work together – drawing in expertise and facilitation from Ovation Healthcare — to develop the hospital’s strategic plan.  NMC established its FY’22-24 Strategic Plan in the Summer of 2023. The new strategic plan was developed with the NMC staff, managers, Incorporators, physicians, and Board members. It was endorsed by the Leadership Team, the Medical Executive Committee, and the Planning Committee of the Board before being adopted by the full Board of Directors.

To start the planning process, a comprehensive Market assessment was completed by Ovation Healthcare planning consultants with assistance from NMC Leadership and Finance staff.  This assessment included a review of population projections, demographic shifts, operational statistics, community health assessment results, market share data, competitive forces, financial data, national benchmarks, results of stakeholder interviews, community perceptions, health care trends, and NMC’s Mission, Vision and Values. NMC also conducted a Consumer Perception Survey in the spring of 2022, with support from research firm 5by5. 

Based on the findings of the Environmental Assessment, the Perception Survey and the results of the extensive multi-disciplinary planning process, the following critical issues were identified as top priorities to be addressed during FY’22-24:

  • Quality and Safety: Fully embrace High Reliability, hardwire patient-centered decision making, coordinate transitions of care to reduce errors and readmissions, provide data transparency to raise awareness and drive improvement, reduce unnecessary variation to minimize medical errors, provide a safe environment of care. 

  • Financial Sustainability: Reduce outmigration and operationalize opportunities in services including stroke care, midwifery and physical medicine and rehabilitation services, improve operational effectiveness through KPI identification and action plans to achieve goals, fully embed Lean Daily Management and High Reliability into our culture, formally define relationships with community partners, stabilize workforce to eliminate reliance on travelers and evaluate and determine participation in the ACO in 2024. 

  • Engagement: Implement actions based on the 2022 internal engagement surveys, implement a revitalized and reimagined approach to staff recruiting and onboarding, advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion both as an employer and a care provider, invest in leadership development fo rour medical staff and hospital leaders and professional development for staff, actively engage our people through bi-directional communication and transparency strategies, use 2022 Perception Survey data to inform improvement efforts in quality, services and marketing communications. 

For each year of the three year strategic plan, an annual operating plan and an annual quality plan are created to define and track efforts to address the critical issues.  Key strategic initiatives are developed to address each critical issue, with timelines and responsibilities identified. 

Progress on the annual operating plan and the annual quality plan is reported to the Board on a monthly basis. In addition, dashboards of measures are used by the NMC Board and Leadership to monitor NMC’s status, providing empirical guidance to the strategic initiatives which flow from the strategic plan.  

NMC will review our strategic plan in the summer of 2023. 

For more information on strategic planing and public participation, please contact: Jonathan Billings, Chief Operating Officer, NMC, 133 Fairfield Street, St. Albans, VT 05478 (802) 524-1044 * (802) 524-1291 fax * [email protected]