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Health Department News

Posted on: February 3, 2022

Commissioners hear preliminary data from the community health assessment

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A 2021 health assessment of Arapahoe County revealed that income, housing and social connections have a direct impact on the health of residents. The preliminary report describes seven factors that the county will need to address to increase quality of life and access to public health resources and services. Commissioners were briefed on the report in January and will use it to help guide the creation of a single-county health department.

What is a community health assessment?

Colorado law requires the creation of a Community Health Assessment (CHA), at least every five years. The CHA helps public health departments strategically assess the health of their population and identify health risks so that resources can be allocated to address specific issues through a Public Health Improvement Plan (PHIP). Arapahoe County is currently covered through 2024 by the PHIP developed by the Tri-County Health Department.

How is it created?

To create the health assessment, Tri-County Health Department gathered feedback from more than 960 people living and/or working in Arapahoe County, using surveys for residents, elected officials, government leaders, community partners and staff. They also worked with local nonprofit organizations to conduct focus groups with 100 people and examined the priorities of community partners. That feedback was combined with data from more than 30 external state and national sources to provide a well-rounded look at the health-related needs of the Arapahoe County community. 

What were the preliminary findings?

Preliminary findings identified seven categories of public health concern that should be addressed in coming years:

  • Social connection and health—social connection impacts both mental and physical health. Methods of connecting socially have changed and connection has become more difficult. 
  • Economic security and health—community members with lower incomes report more depression and less overall good health. This item was also included in the 2018 CHA.
  • Health and housing—safe, stable, affordable, healthy housing is directly related to health and the average income is not keeping pace with average rent costs. 
  • Mental health—Mental health helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Poor mental health can increase the risk of chronic health conditions.
  • Substance use—Like other diseases, a combination of factors, including a person’s environment, increase the risk for developing addiction or engaging in substance abuse or misuse.
  • Access to services—The use of health care services is directly related to accessibility and cost of those services. Access to care was impacted by the pandemic.
  • Health and food—As other costs for basic needs increase, families can be left with less money to spend on healthy food.
  • COVID-19—Pandemic response evaluation, data collection and analysis will be necessary for years to come.

With the exception of COVID, all categories were also identified in the 2018 CHA

What are the next steps?

Ultimately, the CHA will be used to identify priorities and opportunities for the single-county health department to act on through the development of a PHIP. The PHIP drives actions that will help the county address the identified categories from different angles over many years. Arapahoe County is included in the PHIP Tri-County has in place to guide efforts through 2024.

How does having a single-county health department change things?

As part of the decisions Arapahoe County commissioners will make over the next several months, they’ll need to think about how they will use the information in the CHA and Tri-County’s current PHIP as well as what additional information needs to be gathered to inform the next steps.

Where can I learn more?

Visit www.arapahoegov.com/health to sign up to receive updates via the County’s weekly e-newsletter.

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