New Report: Valley Continues to Improve in Treating Disease and Illness, Must do Better in Growing Health
Health Care Council of the Lehigh Valley releases latest report on health of region’s residents
The community health profile of Lehigh Valley residents is the focus of “The Road to Health” 2016 report released today by the Health Care Council of the Lehigh Valley.
It looks at six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, injury and violence, and diabetes and the major factors that contribute to these health issues in both counties and compares them to state averages. (See page 6 of the report.) In general the Lehigh Valley has seen improvements in all of these areas except injury and violence. The report focuses primarily on factors that impact health such as individual behaviors and habits, relationships, work, income, housing, education, and access to health care.
The report’s key findings include:
• We are getting better at what we are good at: treating diseases. Our already good mortality rates continue to improve, but more people are getting sick.
• From a wellness perspective, the region, when compared to other counties in PA, continues to be average to slightly above average.
• Individual behaviors play a large role in health improvement. We have not made significant strides in reducing obesity, smoking rates, physical inactivity, alcohol and other drug use, and unprotected sex.
• The environment in which we live also impacts our health. Air quality and unhealthy homes (lead, asbestos, mold and mildew) continues to negatively impact our health.
• Social determinants of health such as education levels, socio-economic status, safe neighborhoods, and social support are the key to improving the ability for all people in the Lehigh Valley to be healthy. One of the reasons why we aren’t seeing dramatic improvements in health is our inconsistent focus in making sustained progress in some of these areas.
“The member hospitals will use these findings to look for ways to continue improving their care for sick people while also working hard to prevent people from getting sick,” said Ronald Dendas, Program Officer for The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. “But strong community partners are needed to address the social, environmental and individual factors that influence our overall health.”
The report combines statistics from local, state, and national resources about disease, the environment, social factors, and individual behaviors with input from area residents gathered through three focus groups in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust provided funding for the HCC and the report.
Formed in 2011, the HCC originated due to the Affordable Care Act, which stipulated that starting in 2013 all nonprofit hospitals and health care systems are required to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years.
Members of HCCLV are:
• City of Allentown Health Bureau
• City of Bethlehem Health Bureau
• The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust
• Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network
• Lehigh Valley Health Network
• Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley
• Sacred Heart Health Care System
• St. Luke’s University Health Network
The Health Care Council of the Lehigh Valley (HCC) was formed to measure and improve the broadly defined health of the Lehigh Valley. Created by the not-for-profit health care systems of the Lehigh Valley and expanded to include local health departments and the community health center, the HCC’s objective is to cooperatively update the CHNA to continue to galvanize action and provide a dramatic, demonstrable, and sustained impact on the health of the citizens of the Lehigh Valley.
Established in 1975 by Leonard Parker Pool, The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust serves as a resource that enables Lehigh Valley Health Network to be a superior regional hospital and improve the health of the citizens of the region it serves. Its focused areas of program support include Community Engagement, Primary Care/Community-Based Workforce Development, and Care System Redesign.
Download the report – HCC 2016 CHNA Health Profile Final (PDF).