History of the Weaver Mountains Health Initiative
On March 18th, 2019, the University of Arizona, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Center for Rural Health, represented by Joyce Hospodar and Jen Peters held a meeting in Peeples Valley, Arizona attended by area Fire Departments, Wickenburg Community Hospital, Lifeline Ambulance, and Arizona Children Association. The meeting was prompted after conversation between Scott Mayer, Assistant Fire Chief of Peeples Valley Fire Department and Joyce Hospodar regarding Mr. Mayer’s request for Narcan (Naloxone) to help area emergency responders respond effectively to an opioid overdose emergency. It was that conversation that led to further discussions about the healthcare access issues in the Weaver Mountains, Arizona area that consists of Kirkland, Peeples Valley, Skull Valley, Wilhoit and Yarnell.
Subsequently, an additional meeting was held on May 6, 2019, that was attended by members from Lifeline Ambulance, Wickenburg Community Hospital, Dell Webb Medical Center, Arizona Center for Rural Health, Yarnell Fire District, Peeples Valley Fire District, Yarnell Regional Community Center, Yarnell Area Resource Group, and Model Creek Elementary School.
Participating members unanimously decided to conduct a Needs Assessment Survey in the summer of 2019 in collaboration with residents. Peeples Valley Fire District would lead the effort, in collaboration with all the participating members of the meeting. The Yarnell Area Resource Group (Formerly Yarnell Hill Recovery Group) submitted the application on behalf of the participating members. Wickenburg Community Hospital (WCH), designated by the state as a Critical Access Hospital and a Level IV Trauma Center, supports the needs of residents and surrounding rural communities within approximately 3,300 square miles. WCH was tasked with engaging a consulting company to conduct the Needs Assessment Survey of the Weaver Mountains area using funds from the AZFlex Program.
In July 2019 WCH retained Cornerstone Business Solutions, LLC (www.cornerstonebizco.com), to conduct the Needs Assessment Survey. Cornerstone is an Advisory Firm offering a wide range of research, strategic growth planning, business development assistance and support services, primarily to various healthcare organizations. Company principals including CEO Jeff Russell have experience serving various Government, hospital, and clinic organizations. The initial Needs Assessment Survey (Survey #1) was conducted during the summer of 2019 and covered ten questions with results tabulated. Demographic information was added to the report. Subsequently, Cornerstone conducted a more detailed survey in the fall of 2019 (Survey #2), to expand on the results learned during the first survey. In addition to paper copies being available, the second survey had twenty-five questions and was offered on-line at www.WeaverMountainsHealth.com. Mailers were sent to all residents in the Weaver Mountains area. Residents were also provided phone assistance if they wanted to complete the survey without using the internet. Only one survey was completed per household so there was no duplication of feedback.
Additionally, Cornerstone conducted two Focus Group meetings on October 21, 2019, one with fourteen emergency responders from the area and another with twenty-seven residents of the area.
Further, and separate from the survey, questions were asked of community leaders during in-person meetings, via phone calls and email interactions.
By expanding the initial scope of work beyond the first survey, Cornerstone was able to gain better insight into the healthcare access issues facing the Weaver Mountains area. During the summer and early fall of 2019, Cornerstone was able to collaborate with WCH leadership and Weaver Mountains Health Initiative members to help identify both short-term and long-term solutions for providing improved access to quality healthcare in the area.
Founding Board of Director members included; Scott Mayer, President; Lori Bomar, Vice President, and Frazier Mayer, Secretary/Treasurer. Founding board members at large included Frances Lechner, Joyce Dennison, Margie Ferucci, Richard Wedig and Jeff Russell.
Current Board Members include; Frances Lechner, President, JerrieLea Hopf, Treasurer and Bethany Strickland, Secretary. Other board members include; Scott Mayer, Frances Mayer, and Lori Bomar.