For two hours, Holly Lang, director of community benefits at Piedmont Healthcare, led a discussion that invited members of the community to chime in as they saw fit.
The meeting began with Lang outlining how community benefits are programs and activities offered to communities in order for Piedmont Henry Hospital to maintain its tax-exempt status.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to do activities like this and to take the gauge of the community and see where we can better what we do and build upon the programs that are already in place,” she said. “Community programs can really target that whole community and should.”
Community benefit programs and activities have many goals including addressing the needs of vulnerable populations or response to a public health issue.
Topics discussed at the town hall meeting included comments at length in regards to barriers to necessary care, such as low-income and uninsured populations, mental health and the homeless.
Lang said access to prescriptions would be a key issue.
“I would think that access to prescriptions would be a very key thing,” she said. “How do you get the prescriptions that you need to even manage a condition?”
Fire Chief Bill Lacy commented on the link between the homeless and mental health.
“In this current year there are about 600 Henry County Schools students that are currently homeless,” said Lacy. “What is presenting to us are those who have been in homeless situations over long periods of time and they do develop mental health issues as a result.”
Future meetings will be announced.