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What is a CHNA anyway?10386-CHNA-Community

A Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) helps hospitals and insurers target funding for community benefits.
Under the Affordable Care Act, non-profit hospitals are required to demonstrate they are responding to health needs in their communities, and Community Health Needs Assessments help them do that. CHNAs are required once every three years.   

Who’s involved?

As is often the case, Western Massachusetts is unique in the way we are conducting our CHNA. Seven nonprofit hospitals and one nonprofit health insurer have formed a coalition to complete our research in collaboration. The Coalition of Western Massachusetts Hospitals/Insurer is a partnership between:

  • Baystate Medical Center
  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center
  • Baystate Noble Hospital
  • Baystate Eastern Region Hospital
  • Berkshire Health Systems
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  • Cooley Dickinson Hospital
  • Mercy Medical Center (a member of Trinity Health of New England)
  • Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield
  • Health New England

A Regional Advisory Council (RAC) that includes the Coalition plus approximately 20 community-based organizations and service providers in Western guided the CHNA process.

The Public Health Institute of Western MA was the lead consultant working with Collaborative for Educational Services the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments to implement the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessments for the Coalition of Western Massachusetts Hospitals/Insurer. PHIWM  also led the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessments. You can see the 2016 CHNA reports on PHIWM’s website.

What is the process?

Research for CHNAs involves gathering a lot of varied data and combining it to tell the story of well-being in Western MA for each hospital’s service area.
We gathered health outcome data such as heart disease, asthma, and birth outcomes from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other sources. We collected information on health behaviors, such as smoking, exercise, and other behaviors. We included information on the social determinants of health, such as the ability to afford housing and have a job. We also gathered many of the reports and surveys that organizations and agencies throughout Western MA have published in the last 3 years.

We also collected information directly from people who live, work, and play in Western MA in the form of focus groups, key informant interviews, and community chats.

Once we gathered all of this information, we created a story with the CHNA report and held Community Forums to get feedback.  

What can I do with the CHNAs?

The CHNAs are yours – the research and findings are from the community and for you to use. 
Priorities in the CHNAs guide grantmaking by hospitals and Health New England, strategic directions, and countywide Community Health Improvement Plans. Your organizations, agencies, or businesses can use the findings in the CHNA to apply for local, state, and national grants and guide your strategic and program planning. If you use it in other ways we would love to know.

How do I learn the latest news? 

The best way to keep up to date with the CHNA, and the subsequent Community Health Improvement Plans and actions in your community, is to like the CHNA on Facebook.

For more information, please contact Lisa Ranghelli, Director of Assessment and Capacity Building, at

Editorial:  Report reveals county's complex health issues, needs

Community Health Needs Assessment (2022)

Baystate Health Hospitals

Berkshire Health Systems

Cooley Dickinson Hospital

Health New England

Mercy Medical Center

Shriners Hospital for Children- Springfield

This year the Coalition of Western Massachusetts Hospitals/Insurer chose a regional focus area – youth mental health: Youth Mental Health in Western MA

Community Health Needs Assessments (2019)

Community Health Needs Assessments (2016)