AT THE JULY 16, 2015 REGULAR MONTHLY BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING OF THE INDIAN RIVER COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT (IRCHD), Trustee Marybeth Cunningham spoke briefly about how the IRCHD is embarking on a comprehensive and collaborative “Community Health Assessment” (CHA), to include “Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP).”
According to the National Association of County & City Health Officials, “A Community Health Assessment is a process that uses quantitive and qualitative methods to systematically collect and analyze data to understand health within a specific community.”
The Health Assessment was a collaborative effort between The Indian River County (IRC) Health Department, Indian River Medical Center, Whole Family Health, VNA, Treasure Coast Health and the IRCHD. Ms. Cunningham played a lead role in developing the Assessment and it is now complete, on schedule and ready for public consumption.
IRCHD Trustee Marybeth Cunningham
Ms. Cunningham recently wrote:
“I think it is important to get information out to the community about the health assessment.
The data is both surprising and yet not shocking. The important thing is that the community is aware of the major health risks in this community and that everyone gets behind strategies to improve the health of the community; the providers, the funders and the public. There is much to be done to improve the community health, reduce health costs and improve quality of health care.
I’m happy that you want to get the word out, because I’m determined to get the messages out and get the community focused on improving the health of our residents!”
The Assessment was a community driven process of identifying the unmet health care needs in IRC. It identifies ten priorities, with supporting data for each priority and various strategies necessary to address them.
The ten priorities are as follows:
- Emergency Department Diversion
- Unintentional Injuries
- Healthy Weight
- Chronic Diseases
- Mental Health (Suicide)
- Oral Health
- Mental Health
- Childhood Obesity
- Infant Mortality/Prenatal Care
With respect to the data that established and supported these priorities, we are summarizing it for you below:
- Emergency Department Diversion: There is inappropriate use of the Indian River Medical Center Emergency Room (ER). In 2014 there were 44,481 ER visits, of which 8,000 were pediatric patients.
- Cancer: In 2014 there were 510 deaths in IRC. It is the leading cause of death in the County representing 25.1% of all deaths.
- Unintentional Injuries: There were 107 deaths in IRC in 2014 due to unintentional injuries, of which almost half were due to falls, where the highest rate of falls was seen in the 80+ age group.
- Healthy Weight: 60.2% of adults in IRC reported being overweight or obese in 2013. (26.1% were obese and 34.1% were overweight.) Obesity was voted as one of two top strategic issues by Advisory Council members.
- Chronic Diseases: Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in IRC and diabetes was mentioned as one of the key health issues in IRC in the majority of focus groups and key informant interviews.
- Mental Health (Suicide): In 2013 17.8% of adults in IRC reported being told they had a depressive disorder. In 2014 there were 26 deaths by suicide. Both statistics are slightly higher than the State averages.
- Oral Health: There is a lack of dental health services and providers, especially those providers accepting Medicaid. Dental/oral health services, as well as general oral health prevention were also mentioned as a key health issue in both focus groups and key informant interviews.
- Mental Health: There is an increased rate of hospitalizations due to self-inflicted injuries and alcohol consumption among youth and adolescents. In 2014 there were 125 inpatient discharges and 47 ER visits from self-inflicted injuries. In 2014 7.9% of middle school students reported having used alcohol in the past 30 days and 3.3% reported binge drinking. For high school students, these numbers were 31.8% and 14.9% respectively.
- Childhood Obesity: 29.5% of IRC children over the age of two were overweight or obese in 2014. Obesity was voted the other top strategic issue by the Advisory Council members.
- Infant Mortality/Prenatal Care: Mothers who received prenatal care during their first trimester was 13.3% less than the State average. And what is particularly shocking is that though the white infant death rate is lower than the State, the black and other infant mortality rate is over twice as high.
Each of the priorities identified above included strategies necessary to address them. We will go into greater detail about these in Part Two, but these words were used over and over again in each of the strategies: education, awareness, promotion, collaboration, campaigns, advocacy and incentive programs.
In Part Two we will also report on what’s next, now that the Assessment has been completed? As well as how the Assessment was conducted, who conducted it and how it was underwritten.
As Ms. Cunningham said, “I think it is important to get information out to the community about the health assessment.”
One way you can help her do this, if you have a Facebook page, is to go to our Vero Communique Facebook page and share this article.