The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Section 501(r)(3)(A) requires a hospital organization to conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) every three years and to adopt an implementation strategy to meet the community health needs identified through the CHNA. The CHNA is a vital tool to aid in identifying priority health needs and aligning partners and resources to address community needs. A collaborative approach to planning an organization’s CHNA can increase the likelihood of successful targeted initiatives to improve health outcomes. This webinar will review IRS criteria and provide peer best practice examples to assist CAHs in simplifying the CHNA process to ensure alignment. Collaborative approach examples will also be shared while discussing strategies to prioritize community health needs.

This course, in its entirety, will take an estimated 58 minutes to complete.

A transcript for this course is available upon request. Please e-mail the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative Education team at (e-mail) if you would like a copy.


Funding for this course was provided by the Health Resources Services Administration, Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) 93.241).

Target Audience

Hospital leadership, population health or CHNA leads, public health professionals and interested community partners.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe IRS criteria and the importance of alignment
  • Identify best practice examples to simplify the CHNA process
  • Describe the process of assessing community needs using a collaborative approach
  • Describe strategies to prioritize community needs for health improvement initiatives
Course summary
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Sarah Pavelka, PhD, MHA, OTR/L, CPHQ, FNAHQ

Sarah Pavelka, PhD, MHA, OTR/L, CPHQ, FNAHQ has over 20 years of experience leading and coaching in organizational performance and continuous improvement in business, industry, education, and healthcare. Sarah is currently the Academic Program Director for the Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) and BS Health Management degrees at Walden University. 
Dr. Pavelka has extensive professional experiences including, a subject matter expert for the National Association for Healthcare, a 13-year faculty member for the Master’s in Healthcare Administration program at Des Moines University, Improvement Faculty for the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative, and Director of the Occupational Therapy department for Pella Regional Health Center in Pella, Iowa.  In these roles, Sarah was one of the first leaders to bring Lean/Toyota Manufacturing techniques into healthcare organizations across the U.S. and Canada. Dr. Pavelka’s extensive volunteer experiences included being a five-time National Baldrige examiner, seven-year state examiner for the Iowa Baldrige program, Director-at-Large for the National Association for Healthcare Quality Board, and a task force member for the Iowa Hospital Association.

Sarah holds degrees in Biology and Psychology from Luther College; an Occupational Therapy degree from Concordia University-Wisconsin; MHA from Des Moines University, and a Ph.D. from Walden University. She is a Fellow for the National Association for Healthcare Quality (FNAHQ); a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ); and has credentials in Occupational Therapy, Ergonomics, Lean, and Six Sigma Black Belt. 


Abigail Chihak, MSW, MPH

Abigail Chihak, MSW, MPH is the Community Health Administrator at the Dallas County Health Department. In service to the residents of Dallas County, Chihak oversees the Health Navigation program, conducts the county needs assessment, develops and implements the county health improvement plan, provides technical assistance to local community groups, and engages the community through various outreach and media efforts. Chihak earned her Bachelors of Science and Bachelors of Social Work from Briar Cliff University. During that time, she found a love for the social determinants of health and soon after enrolled in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis where she earned her Masters of Public Health and Masters of Social Work. Chihak strives to address the social determinants of health in her communities so that every resident has the opportunity to make healthy choices.

No continuing education is provided for this course. The user will receive a certificate of completion upon completing the course.

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