Mental Health, Access to Medical Care, Food Insecurity, Among the Top Health Issues Impacting Central Florida

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Access to mental health care services, access to care, and food insecurity are three of the greatest issues facing Central Floridians, according to the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), released today by AdventHealth's Central Florida Division, Orlando Health, Aspire Health Partners, the health departments for four area counties and local federally qualified health centers. Access to care for the uninsured and underinsured populations of Central Florida and community development were also identified as priorities in the report.

Among the findings:

  • More than 58% of respondents say they are hopeless or depressed.
  • Nearly one-third of respondents in our region say they lack access to high quality, affordable, healthy food.
  • Over 45% of respondents report challenges accessing affordable health care.
  • There is one mental health care provider per every 809 residents in the four counties, on average, a disparity greater than state and national averages.
  • The number of Fentanyl-related deaths doubled or nearly doubled in all four counties.

"Caring for individuals' whole person health also means caring for the community's health. AdventHealth is committed to tackling major health issues like access to healthy food and mental health care services," said Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth's Central Florida Division. "The CHNA will serve as the roadmap for all of us to care for the communities where we live."

"Assessing the health needs of Central Floridians is an important first step in identifying solutions," said Lainie Fox Ackerman, assistant vice president, External Affairs & Community Benefit, Orlando Health. "Orlando Health's focus on improving access to care will help meet critical needs toward building stronger and healthier communities throughout Central Florida. We look forward to opportunities for new initiatives and expanding established programs to help ensure improvements and progress continues."

The CHNA is conducted every three years and provides a detailed look at the health of residents in Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. The 711-page report details data on a variety of topics ranging from asthma to cancer rates, to availability of health care providers, to food deserts. Its purpose is to identify major community health challenges and gaps in service that contribute to the region's overall health.

The data helps AdventHealth and Orlando Health develop strategies to improve the health of our residents through specific community health plans in the unique areas each campus serves. These community health plans help align our work with other nonprofit organizations that share our goal of a healthier community.

Data for the assessment was collected from more than 3,200 community members through more than 2,700 surveys, 15 focus groups, as well as data from the Florida Department of Health, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others. Additional findings include:

  • Participants said untreated mental illness and substance use make it difficult to maintain gainful employment and stable housing.
  • While there was increase in the percentage of women who received a mammogram, the breast cancer rate increased.
  • Diabetes and asthma hospitalizations decreased, as did the prevalence of colorectal cancer and lung cancer.
  • There was a decrease in the percentage of mothers receiving prenatal care in the first trimester.
  • There was a decrease in the percentage of kindergartners receiving immunizations.
  • Adults receiving preventive screenings including Pap test, PSA test and colonoscopy decreased.
  • Obesity among adults and middle school students increased.

In response to the CHNA's findings, AdventHealth and Orlando Health will team up to tackle food insecurity in Central Florida, as nutrition plays a significant role in health. An announcement on a joint project will be made later.

"Having worked in the field of public health for many years, I know what an important role the Community Health Needs Assessment plays in identifying the health challenges facing our residents and in creating a better environment for our visitors," said Dr. Paul Pino, interim director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County. "Besides showcasing the pressing issues, the assessment also affords us the opportunity to draw upon the strengths of our many partners and stakeholders, allowing us to collaboratively address these issues and improve health outcomes."

Other participants in the production of the CHNA include: Community Health Centers; Orange Blossom Family Health; Osceola Community Health Services and True Health.

"Our organization understands the need for accurate data that reflects the health and social determinants of health issues that exists in our community," said Belinda Johnson-Cornett, CEO of Osceola Family Health Services. "We will use the information to plan our community outreach and help to inform our decisions about what clinical services are needed. I look forward to working with other partners and stakeholders to bring about a positive change in the health of our communities."

Click here to download the Community Health Needs Assessment. More information about AdventHealth's community impact is available here. More about Orlando Health's community impact can be found here. Infographic on the CHNA can be found here.

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