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A Health Assessment

The Lakeville Journal Co. Editorial

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) as a systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis that provides benefits such as improved organizational and community coordination and collaboration, better knowledge about public health and the ways it connects with other activities.

Of course, as it identifies strengths and weaknesses it puts a spotlight on where to focus.

There are many benefits, but one of the biggest outputs of a Community Health Needs Assessment is that it can provide a community with a portrait of its overall health and readiness to remain healthy and/or address problems.

The recently completed CHNA in Sharon Hospital’s service area in Litchfield County and Dutchess County under the auspices of Nuvance Health, identified chronic disease, mental health and substance-use disorders as the top health issues affecting residents.

The work was overseen by a committee that included representatives of communities in both Connecticut and New York State, and included  hospital Board leadership, administrative leadership from the Nuvance Health network, local health department directors, community stakeholders, and other key hospital stakeholders.

Our coverage of this important survey by Debra Aleksinas in a front page story last week illustrated both commonalities and differences among populations in Connecticut’s Northwest Corner and those who live in eastern Dutchess County.

The population on both sides of the border is expected to grow marginally, but that growth also is expected to show a much sharper rise in the number  of people 65 and older.

We are graying. If you look around, you can see that.

And the conclusion of the assessment is that we will need services that support healthy aging, and aging-in-place.

Chronic diseases — such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, arthritis, and chronic lung disease — are identified as a prime focus for attention, along with promotion of well-being and prevention of mental health and substance use disorders.

Focus groups are planned to ensure that the community is heard. They will include food pantries, representatives of the medical community, churches and nonprofit agencies, as well as health districts and community members. In other words, as the CDC sees it, to provide benefits such as improved organizational and community collaboration.

We all should be grateful that our community is looking out for its own well-being.

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