New Report Identifies Cape Cod’s Major Health Priorities

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.

HYANNIS – Cape Cod Healthcare has identified the region’s most pressing health priorities through its Community Health Needs Assessment.

The organization released its report and implementation plan for fiscal years 2017 through 2019.

The assessment, which collects and analyzes regional health data and input from the community, has identified chronic and infectious diseases, behavioral health, access to care and disease prevention as the county’s top priorities.

“These four emerged out of both statistic data and input from the community – what the community really feels and is experiencing as our greatest health needs,” said Lisa Guyon, the director of community benefits for Cape Cod Healthcare.

Cape Cod Healthcare received input from over 140 individuals and 90 community-based health and human service agencies.

“The Community Health Needs Assessment is an important tool to inform both us and the community of the most pressing health needs facing our region,” said Terri Ahern, Cape Cod Healthcare senior vice president, strategy and government affairs. “The input from residents, local public health officials and community organizations was critical in our efforts to identify the specific needs of vulnerable populations and opportunities for health improvement activities.”

The four significant health priorities were identified based on severity, scope, frequency and the resources available to treat them.

Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis and Falmouth Hospital will focus on implementing strategies over the next few years in these areas.

One goal will be to improve chronic and infectious disease prevention and management to meet the needs of an aging, at-risk population.

“Given the demographics of our community – the age and trends of our community – we do see quite a bit of chronic disease as people age so you’ll see cancer and heart disease,” Guyon said.

The organization will also focus on care for Alzheimers, Parkinson’s and other dementias. Guyon said tick borne illnesses and hepatitis C are infectious diseases in the region that have stood out.

Cape Cod Healthcare will also look to strengthen regional health services and resources for individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues, or the occurrence of both at the same time.

“As everyone knows, substance use disorders [are] an issue that is effecting our whole country, particularly the northeast,” Guyon said. “They are pretty highly complex issues. So we’ve seen, obviously, some trending around both of those issues.”

Another goal is to reduce barriers to care throughout the community and strengthen the regional health safety network for vulnerable populations.

“If you look at the broad base of factors that contribute to someone’s health, we really as a whole community have to look at the systems that are in place to make sure that people have access to care,” Guyon said.

Transportation, housing and homelessness and employment are issues that remain as long-standing regional challenges and have been identified as problems that fall beyond the scope of care from Cape Cod Healthcare.

“Clearly the health system has a piece of that, but we really have to work across the community infrastructure to address those things,” Guyon said.

The full report and is available at Cape Cod Healthcare’s website and can be found by clicking here.

The organization encourages residents and other agencies to review and comment on the report.

“We really hope that other community agencies will use this data to help with their planning and their implementation of projects and activities for vulnerable populations,” Guyon said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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