FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Florida Department of Health Nassau addresses county health rankings

Florida Dept of Health Nassau
Press Release
Contact: Mary von Mohr
[email protected]
March 20, 2018 9:00 a.m.

To view Nassau County report click here. 

The Florida Department of Health in Nassau County recognizes the value in measuring health outcomes and today acknowledges the 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, much of which is available from the department at www.FLHealthCHARTS.com.

Florida Department of Health in Nassau County works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Nassau County. According to Eugenia Ngo-Seidel, MD, MPH, County Health Officer: “Nassau County is a growing and caring community. New issues are emerging and progress continues on older challenges. Through active partnerships and commitment we can collaborate to effect change.”

These rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care.

The Rankings measures include two main categories: Health Outcomes and Health Factors. Health Outcomes use length of life and quality of life as standard measurements to describe a community’s health. Health Factors are indicators that help determine our future health (i.e., factors that can ultimately make us sick or lead to an early death). Health Factors rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care. New this year are subcategories that describe differences by race/ethnicity. The Rankings can reveal strengths and obstacles to health and can give focus and direction to help make Nassau County a healthier place to live.

The results of the 2018 County Health Rankings report show how Nassau County ranks among all Florida counties – overall 23rd of Florida’s 67 counties. The Rankings show that Nassau County is strongest in one of the two main categories, Health Factors, where it maintained its rank of 8th in the state. Nassau County did show a decline in some of the ranking areas (includes health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.) For the second main category, Health Outcomes, the ranking decreased from 18th (2017) to 23rd (2018). This ranking was most affected by the sub-category Quality of Life (perception of physical & mental health and low birth weight) measure, which decreased from 11th (2017) to 19th (2018).

The new ranking subcategories is an opportunity to describe differences in population health by race/ethnicity. Health equity is a key strategic priority for the Florida Department of Health, which recognizes there are opportunities to identify and improve health disparities. The 2018 Nassau County rankings reported higher rates in blacks for premature death, low birthweight infants, and lower rates for diabetes monitoring. Children living in poverty was highest with Hispanics at 38%.

In Nassau County, the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is designed to address specific opportunities for improved health that have been identified by the community. The Partnership for Healthier Nassau is a diverse group of community partners who facilitate and track progress of the CHIP for Nassau County. The CHIP is a three-year strategic health plan created by the community, for the community. This plan includes three strategic areas that align with Health Factors identified by the 2018 Rankings. These include access to care, behavioral health/substance abuse and transportation.

The CHIP has accomplished the following goals over the past year: established an Interfaith Health Ministry, created and distributed Nassau Helps Resource cards across the county to assist with linking persons to crisis resources, expanded Mental Health First Aid Training, expanded rural health care services to uninsured and underserved (Callahan) and expanded mass transportation countywide using NassauTRANSIT.

One local success story which addressed reducing access to care issues and the measure of driving alone to work (shared rider service) is NassauTRANSIT, a service of Nassau County Council on Aging, Inc. NassauTRANSIT, a service of Nassau County Council on Aging, Inc., operates Florida’s state-designated public transportation system in Nassau County. As one means of extending service across the county, NassauTRANSIT has a Public Transportation Partner program that promotes businesses and service agencies who support public transportation. According to Mike Hays, Transportation Director, “one advantage of this program is that the partners can purchase multi-ride bus fare vouchers at discounted prices on behalf of their employees, customers and the general public. Baptist Nassau Hospital, WestRock, Starting Point Behavioral Health, Salvation Army Hope House, Barnabas and the Florida Department of Health (Nassau) are some of the partners currently participating in the Public Transportation Partner program.”

Mental health and substance abuse needs (Quality of Life – “Poor mental health days measure”) are being addressed with the collaboration of mental health provider partners and Starting Point Behavioral Health who has launched the Care Coordination program, a highly effective and innovative collaboration with Baptist Medical Center Nassau which identifies patients with both mental health and substance use problems in the emergency room (ED). With a mental health counselor from Starting Point working in the ED, patients with serious mental health or substance use issues can be quickly assessed and referred to a coordinated program of care that addresses their physical and mental health needs. The goals of the program include not only improved care and outcomes for the clients, but also a reduction in the number of return visits to the ED.

Per Kellene Sauls, Nurse Executive at Baptist Medical Center Nassau “the program has resulted in improved patient care now that there are more resources available to them. Before, we were making the handoff (to a mental health provider) with a card,” Sauls said. “Now, it is a warm hand-off with Starting Point. There is face-to-face interaction that helps them to connect and stay connected.”

To explore more health indicators in your county, visit www.FLHealthCHARTS.com.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov. More information about the Florida Department of Health in Nassau County or the CHIP visit www.nassau.floridahealth.gov/ or by calling the Florida Department of Health in Nassau County at (904) 557-9133.

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