Health Needs in my Community
I live in Mobile Al and there are several health needs within my community. In their Community Health Assessment for 2019 – 2021, Infirmary Health identified access to care, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity/lack of physical activity as the top priorities (Shaw et al, n.d.). In 2017 the top 5 causes of death in Mobile County were heart disease, cancer, stroke, accidents, and chronic lower respiratory disease (Alabama Department of Public Health, 2017). A health issue becomes a priority when it affects the largest number of individuals, if it is something that can be changed through lifestyle adjustments, or if there are current measures in place to address the issue (Association for Community Health Improvement, n.d.). I feel one of the urgent health needs in my community is obesity because obesity is a contributor to heart disease, stroke, and cancer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 2020); all of which are leading causes of death in my community. Access to care is another urgent health need because those suffering from these diseases need access to treatment and preventative care to reduce their morbidity and mortality. Heart disease and cancer are two diseases that are a health priority. In 2017, 1,075 people died from heart disease and 894 people died from cancer (Alabama Department of Public Health, 2017). The next leading cause of death, accidents, only saw 210 deaths (Alabama Department of Public Health, 2017) so there is clearly a much stronger issue with heart disease and cancer in Mobile County. Some nonurgent health issues are diabetes, accidental deaths, high blood pressure, and chronic lower respiratory disease.
Some community stakeholders who should be involved in making these decisions should be patients, hospital staff and leadership, stakeholder organizations (Association for Community Health Improvement n.d. b) and community members and leaders.
In order to document this and present this to the community a Community Health Assessment (CHA) should be created. The full document should be easily available online for anyone within the community to access. Important highlights of the CHA should be published in newspapers and local publications such as the Lagniappe. Stories can be featured on news and local programming. Information can be disseminated through social media. Community groups like churches, clubs, and other organizations can be provided information to distribute to their members.
Alabama Department of Public Health. (2017). County Health Profiles 2017 [PDF]. Retrieved from: https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/healthstats/assets/chp2017.pdf
Association for Community Health Improvement. (n.d. a). Community Health Assessment Toolkit: Step 5: Prioritize Community Health Issues. Retrieved from: https://www.healthycommunities.org/resources/toolkit/files/step5-select-priority
Association for Community Health Improvement. (n.d. b). Community Health Assessment Toolkit: Community Engagement. Retrieved from: https://www.healthycommunities.org/resources/toolkit/files/community-engagement
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (September 2020). Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html
Shaw, T., Bunch, J., Carlson, L. (n.d.). Community Health Needs Assessment [PDF]. Retrieved from: https://www.infirmaryhealth.org/sites/default/files/2019-2021_CHNA_Report_Infirmary_Health.pdf
In looking for healthcare disparities in my county, Blount, Tennessee, I was happy to find a hospital had worked on a community health initiative. The county had sent a health initiative action team, comprised of over 180 volunteers from local businesses, industries, schools, health care entities, parks and recreation organizations, the National Guard, social service agencies, faith communities, law enforcement agencies, and county government (Blount Memorial, 2020).
The team looked across the county and determined the need of teen pregnancy prevention, domestic violence support, substance abuse prevention, mental health and suicide awareness, childhood obesity, and environmental health (Blount Memorial, 2020).
The County was able to use information from across the community to identify these issues. Priority was set by reviewing the concerns and grouping similar needs together, classifying groups, scoring the concerns, and using information from experts to determine severity (Sousa, Goulart, Braga, Medeiros, Rego, Vieira, & Loura, 2017). I imagine determining which ones were of the highest severity was challenging as so many focuses were determined for the county wide initiative plan.
For the issues to be addressed, the team, would have to, and did, engage local stakeholders, as they were knowledgeable of the community’s needs and concerns.
If I was looking to present disparities to my community I would want to ensure, as the initiative team did, that I had information from internal and external stakeholders to be able to use their identified concerns as a primary focus. Bringing together volunteers across the county allows those stakeholders to work together toward a healthier county while allowing everyone the opportunity for input and an plan of action.
Receiving the areas of concern and then speaking with the community stakeholders is a great way to get the information developed for presenting an action plan to the community as well as ensuring their buy in and participation.
Blount Memorial. (2020). Community Health Initiative. Retrieved from https://blountmemorial.org/resources–volunteer–community_health_initiative
Sousa, F.R., Goulart, M.G., Braga, A. S., Medeiros, C.O., Rego, D.M., Vieira, F. G., & Loura, M. P. (2017). Setting health priorities in a community: a case example. Revista De Saude Publica, 51(0). Doi:10.1590/S1518-8787.2017051006460