Conway Health Summit: Leaders offer ideas to address needs

by Sonja J. Keith

Drugs, drinking and dieting were among the topics discussed at the recent Community Health Summit sponsored by Conway Regional Health System.

About 60 community leaders representing a cross-section of Conway attended the summit. In addition to Conway Regional, other groups involved in the project include Conway and Faulkner County government, the Faulkner County Health Department, United Way, the Conway School District, business leaders and community volunteers.

Conway Regional has partnered with Stratasan, a national health care research company, to develop a Community Health Needs Assessment. 

“The mission of Conway Regional is to be accountable to the community to provide high-quality and compassionate health care services,” said Jim Lambert, president and CEO. “In an effort to demonstrate that accountability, we are working to clearly define the health needs of Faulkner County and determine a plan of action to address them.”

At the summit, J. Tod Fetherling of Stratasan presented a community overview with state and county information.

Dr. Joe Bates, deputy state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, also presented information on health issues. 

“Arkansas is not a healthy state,” he said, adding that a lot of resources are spent on health-related efforts but there is not a good return on the investment. He identified smoking — which he described as “slow suicide” — and obesity as two major health concerns in the state. “Half the people in Arkansas have high blood pressure, and most don’t know it.”

Dr. Stephanie Bailey of Stratasan also presented information on obesity trends as well as local health concerns, which included binge drinking, smoking and diabetes. She quoted John Maxwell who said, “If there is hope in the future, there is power in the present” and added “You are present. What is the future you want to create? That is your challenge.”

Those in attendance used the background information to brainstorm specific health needs. Each person listed their top three health concerns from their personal perspective but in the context of the whole community. Similar ideas were grouped together with 11 core topics identified:


  • Obesity
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise
  • Health Education
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Wellness
  • Access
  • Healthcare Affordability
  • Smoking/Drinking/Drug Abuse
  • Physician/Clinical Workforce
  • Diet and Nutrition


Those in attendance then met in groups to suggest strategies to address a specific topic. That information was collected at the end of the summit for use in developing an overall action plan.

A final report will be presented to the community, and the plan will be implemented through efforts spearheaded by Conway Regional and other local groups.