Snoqualmie Valley Hospital releases community needs health assessment

The Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District has released a new report highlighting community health needs in the Valley.

The report — the 2023-2025 King County Public Hospital District #4 Community Health Needs Assessment — provides an in-depth look at health indicators such as educational attainment, household income, age and ethnicity. The report also compares the Valley’s health outcomes to King County and the state averages.

The plan, which is part of a three-year requirement mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act, will be used by hospital staff to focus on community needs and drive their strategic plan development, said Sherry Jennings, a Snoqualmie Valley Hospital (SVH) spokesperson.

The report will also be shared with other community organizations such as Empower Youth Network, Friends of Youth and Encompass to help them make better programming decisions, she said.

SVH last had a community health needs assessment done in 2019. But the subsequent implementation plan that followed was set aside because of the pandemic.

According to the report, the hospital had to take on several quick and innovative approaches, including an expanded HVAC system, telehealth, drive-through testing and vaccination sites to adjust to an influx of patients and safety protocols. SVH has provided over 17,000 COVID tests and over 30,500 COVID-19 vaccines as of June 2022.

Cases per 100,000 residents in SVH’s service area, during the pandemic and as of June 2022, were below the state and King County rates, according to the report, despite Valley residents generally having lower vaccination rates. Hospitalization and death rates were also mostly below county numbers.

SVH’s four communities — Snoqualmie, North Bend, Fall City and Carnation — slightly lagged behind King County vaccination rates. Countywide, 81% of people were vaccinated, equal to the number vaccinated in Snoqualmie. However, North Bend (75%), Carnation (76%) and Fall City (68%) all were below the county.

Carnation and Fall City each had cases rates of about 12,500 per 100,000 residents, while North Bend and Snoqualmie hovered around 16,500. That’s compared to rates of 19,700 in the county and 21,000 state wide.

In the Valley, North Bend saw the great hospitalization and death rates per 100,000 (415 and 181, respectively). They led Carnation and Snoqualmie, which each had a death rate of 38 per 100,000. Fall City had 231 hospitalizations per 100,000, but no deaths, according to the report.

Those numbers compare to a death rate of 126 per 100,000 in the county and 170 statewide.

Despite the pandemic disruption, the hospital made improvements during the pandemic toward its overall health goals, according to the report. That includes adding additional staff in its primary care, behavioral health and pediatrics programs, while also building a new urgent care and expanding telehealth options.

Besides the pandemic, the report also notes several hospital service area goals, including reducing risk factors such as cigarette usage, obesity, hypertension and low consumption of fruits and vegetables. According to the report, upper Valley residents had higher rates of being overweight and obese compared to King County. They also had higher rates of cigarette usage (12.5%) than the county as a whole at (10%) and the lower Valley (6.3%).

The hospital also identified goals including increasing preventive care screenings and vaccinations as well as reducing the burden of chronic conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease and arthritis and reducing death rates from diabetes and cancer.

The Snoqualmie/North Bend/ Skykomish Health Reporting Area had a death rate of 164.1 per 100,000 for all cancers, according to the report — 20 ticks higher than either the county or the state.

The upper Valley also had higher rates of death from heart diseases, while seeing death rates Alzheimer’s, stroke and Parkinson’s near county and state numbers. Death rates from diabetes were about 3 points lower than the county average.

The report also includes a survey of 92 community members taken this spring. According to that survey, far and away the greatest health problem identified by residents is a lack of services to support aging in place.

74% of survey respondents ranked that as a top three health problem in the community, well ahead of Alzheimer’s and dementia, which was the second most commonly identified health issue and selected by 38% of respondents.