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By Houghton Daily

Mining Gazette Staff

HANCOCK – The Upper Peninsula West District Health Department, located on Depot Street, last week announced the release of the 2021 Upper Peninsula Community Health Needs Assessment.

The 458-page book, available online for the general public, includes findings from health surveys; data on demographics, access to care, lifelong health, behavioral health and drug addiction; classification of community health problems; and 15 county-level data summaries.

The newly released CHNA is the culmination of an 18-month project led by local health departments in collaboration with hospitals, behavioral health agencies, and health foundations. It includes data on health across the lifespan, access to care, community issues like substance abuse and results from a large health survey conducted last August. Stakeholders will use the data to inform residents, identify priorities for improving community health, and measure changes over time.

The main conclusions of the evaluation, described in its executive summary, include:

≤ A first look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

≤ The impact of the region’s aging population on current and future health needs;

≤ The importance of prevention – reducing tobacco use, maintaining a healthy body weight and not drinking excessively – in reducing rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases;

≤ Disparities in health access, behaviors and outcomes for residents of varying income and education levels;

≤ Improvements in health insurance coverage in recent years, thwarted by persistent and widespread shortages of health professionals for primary care, dental care and behavioral health services; and

≤ Residents’ concerns about issues such as the high cost of health care, economic conditions, drug use, and the shortage of mental health programs and services, among many community health issues.

Kate Beer, chief health officer for the Western UP Health Department, said in the statement that assessing community health needs, along with health improvement planning, are essential functions of public health.

“The findings of this report will help health care providers and communities meet the health needs of people across the region,” says Beer.

Beer said the unique partnership of 42 organizations serving UP continues to make it possible to conduct a comprehensive regional assessment of this scale.

The report also highlights emerging health issues, including the continuing opioid epidemic and the rise in marijuana use, as well as the growing risk of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis.

“This is a very robust assessment, with county-level data on topics ranging from pregnancy and births to leading causes of death,” says Beer. “With survey data from over 3,500 UP residents, we have a wealth of information on general health status and chronic disease prevalence; health-related behaviors such as diet, exercise, and alcohol, tobacco, and drug use; rates of access to preventive care such as health check-ups, dental visits, vaccinations and cancer screenings; and rankings of the relative importance of 16 major health issues, based on respondents’ perceptions of their communities.

The report also addresses the social determinants of health and looks at various counties to address them.

Historically, when it comes to community health, the focus has been on specific diseases, preventive measures, specific programs, and personal health behaviors, the assessment says. As important as these factors are to health outcomes, attention has increasingly focused on the environmental conditions in which people live, work and go to school that contribute to our quality of life and to our health outcomes. These “Social Determinants of Health” often explain why some people face more difficult challenges in achieving and maintaining good health.

With the exception of Marquette County, the median income in every county is lower than the state median income. With the exception of Algiers and Houghton counties, all counties have a higher percentage of households with children 18 and under living in poverty than the statewide percentage.

The report says that in the region, low-income adults and those with low levels of education report poorer physical and mental health, higher rates of illness and disability and lower rates for examinations. annual physicals and timely cancer screenings. Inequalities in socioeconomic status contribute to disparities in access to services, and socioeconomic factors (income and education) are strongly correlated with health status.

The previous iteration of the Upper Peninsula Community Health Issues Priorities Survey in 2017 demonstrated that Upper Peninsula residents intuitively understand that a wide variety of issues impact their health and that of their loved ones. community.

The top four priority issues identified among the 16 concerns listed were:

• Health insurance is expensive or has high costs for co-payments and deductibles;

• Drug abuse;

• Lack of health insurance;

• Unemployment, wages and economic conditions.

Three years later, in 2021, UPCHIPS, the same 16 priority items were listed for review and the top four priority issues (in order of frequency) were:

• Health insurance is expensive or has high costs for co-payments and deductibles;

• Unemployment, wages and economic conditions;

• Drug use;

• Lack of mental health programs and services or lack of affordable mental health care.

On August 13, 2021, the Marquette County Health Department issued a statement indicating that health surveys would be sent that week to randomly selected households in the Upper Peninsula as part of a needs assessment. community health.

“This community health needs assessment is a collaborative effort involving 32 local and regional health partners, including local health departments, hospitals, clinics, behavioral health agencies and health foundations,” the statement said.

“The purpose of this survey is to improve services through the assessment of the current health needs of Upper Peninsula residents. Data from this community health needs assessment will be available at the county and regional level and will be used to target health care and public health services and program efforts to areas of greatest need. within the community.

The 458-page report is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vMEVxWcSlI5-xMxGvaaS6vMmcrCaLrS-/view

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