Counties throughout the Finger Lakes region will spend the next three years focusing on residents’ struggles with mental health, substance use disorders, chronic diseases, and food security in the region, according to a new report.
The new Comprehensive Regional Community Health Assessment produced by Common Ground Health and the Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates county public health departments and partners identifies these issues as key drivers of health outcomes.
The report does not reflect the findings of the 2022 My Health Story survey, which researchers are analyzing. The results from that survey will be used to inform ongoing public health and prevention efforts.
The report also notes that the population of the Finger Lakes region is trending older, and that is putting new strain on the region’s health care system and providers.
Though the population across counties overall is projected to shrink slightly, the region is projected to have an 11-percent increase in the number of older adults over the next five years, the report says. Meeting the needs of these older adults will require additional capacity in healthcare and social services. Additionally, a predicted decline in the number of working age adults locally will put more strain on the area’s health care and social services workforce.
The 300-page report outlines many other regional trends in physical and mental health outcomes and takes a detailed look at an array of topics driving public health in each county in the region. It also provides useful local data that may be helpful to researchers, grantwriters and journalists, among others. The report is available digitally at commongroundhealth.org/CHA2022.
“We applaud the ongoing collaboration by our region’s health departments, health systems, health care providers, and community partners, for capturing the key issues facing each of their counties,” said Wade Norwood, CEO of Common Ground Health.
Every three years these groups create county reports and provide key input into the regional health assessment, which they use to guide their planning and prioritization processes. For the next three years, several area health departments say they will put a priority focus on initiatives that prevent chronic disease, promote well-being and mental health and prevent substance use disorders.
In general, public health departments around the Finger Lakes region are focusing on efforts including tobacco prevention (specifically e-cigarette/vaping), chronic disease preventive care and management, healthy eating and food security.
The report also identifies local concerns about significant increases in suicide fatalities, opioid overdose deaths and treatment program admissions. Several counties are planning to offer mental health first aid trainings and naloxone administration trainings as part of efforts to address these trends.
“Completing a Regional Community Health Assessment in addition to a county-specific assessment provides a broader view,” said Mary Beer, public health director for Ontario County. “It prevents redundancies and allows neighboring counties to pool limited resources.”
“With the help of significant input from the community, and collaborations between the hospitals, health departments and Common Ground Health, the Monroe County Community Health Improvement Workgroup (CHIW) is focused on two key health issues: reducing disparities in maternal & child health and building supportive mental health environments,” Theresa Green, PhD, MBA, director of the Monroe County Community Health Improvement Workgroup. “This regional collaboration across sectors is vital to the success of our community health improvement agenda.”
"Many thanks to our key stakeholders and community members who provided vital input during the community health assessment process,” said Jennifer Rodriguez, Livingston County Department of Health public health director. “We look forward to working with our partners to continue to improve the health and well-being of Livingston County residents."
Download the full report at digitally at www.commongroundhealth.org/CHA2022.