by Kym Byrnes

Enhancing Community Health

The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County explores the causes behind the community’s most pressing health needs

A community’s health and well-being significantly influence its overall quality of life. In Carroll County, a comprehensive understanding of community health needs serves as the compass that guides efforts to foster a healthier population. The recently conducted Carroll County 2024 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) sheds light on the pertinent health challenges and opportunities for growth within the region.

The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County has been at the forefront of addressing community health needs for more than two decades. Between 1999 and 2010, the Partnership embarked on numerous community health assessment projects. With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, The Partnership’s commitment to regular health needs assessments solidified, ensuring a structured approach to understanding and addressing community health dynamics.

Dorothy Fox, The Partnership’s executive director, is proud of The Partnership’s work in building collaborative community efforts and improving health outcomes in Carroll County.

“The Partnership is committed to employing innovative and energized approaches to improving community health while building cohesivity among our many partners and residents,” Fox said.

The CHNA process in Carroll County is far more than a regulatory obligation — it’s a deeply rooted commitment to the community’s well-being. The process involves a comprehensive data collection endeavor, inclusive of focus groups and online surveys, which garnered an impressive 2,600 responses for the 2024 survey. This extensive engagement aims to ensure that the voices of all community members, including underserved and marginalized populations, are heard and accounted for in the assessment.

“We align our outreach and education efforts with the needs validated through the assessment,” Fox said. “We identify priority areas and determine what we can do to influence those areas. This year, we’re really focusing on the drivers — understanding the root causes of our community health issues.”

The Partnership, a collaborative impact model, brings together community and organizational leaders. This arrangement ensures that the most suitable agencies are mobilized to tackle various health challenges. As a result, its goal is maximizing the effectiveness of interventions and promoting tangible improvements in community health outcomes.

The CHNA focuses on the health of the entire Carroll County community, but health equity is at the forefront of The Partnership’s mind, informing its work accordingly.

“Our focus is on the entire Carroll County community; we look at the community at large, and our data reflects that,” Fox said. “However, health equity is important to us and plays a part in what we do.”

For example, Fox said they have an elder health leadership team focusing on issues important to older adults. “We might make efforts to tailor communications about heart health for seniors even though it’s an issue that is relevant for all age groups,” she said.

Learn more about The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County and the CHNA at

25 Years of Impact

The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County is a story of an organizational leadership collaborative meant to address and improve Carroll County’s most pressing health needs. In the late 1990s, responding to a request from the community, creative-thinking leaders from Carroll Hospital and the Carroll County Health Department envisioned a unique approach to health improvement. This year, the organization celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Partnership’s website states that collective impact is a framework for tackling deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to collaboration across government, business, philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change.

Today, The Partnership’s vision is to lead healthy community strategies to achieve the highest level of community health possible. The Partnership achieves this vision through advocacy, education and outreach.

Its work includes the following:

  • Conducting an annual community health forum.
  • Providing educational materials, directories and resources.
  • Conducting community assessments and strategizing plans for impact.
  • Planning healthy activities and initiatives throughout the community.
  • Playing a lead role in moving the overall community’s health forward.

Executive Director Dorothy L. Fox said that The Partnership’s vision has endured thanks to the support of its founding members and many committed community partners. “The key to The Partnership’s success,” she said, “is the relationships with individuals, community organizations and our many partners.”

The following health issues were prioritized and ranked as the top priorities for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025-FY 2027.

They appear below in ranked order.

  1. Mental Health
  2. Diabetes
  3. Heart Health
  4. Cancer
  5. Illegal Substance Use
  6. Congestive Heart Failure
  7. Suicide
  8. Dental Health
  9. Obesity
  10. Stroke
  11. Alcohol Abuse
  12. Prescription Drug Abuse
  13. Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia
  14. Tobacco
  15. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Source: 2024 Community Health Needs Assessment, The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County