Ocala — Marion County residents now have a new roadmap by which to plot their course to better overall health.
The Florida Department of Health in Marion County and AdventHealth Ocala recently published the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, or CHNA.
The document, which must be updated every three years, provides a snapshot of the contemporary condition of the general well-being of Marion County residents, and the factors influencing that.
The assessment also provides elected and community leaders a tool that can guide actions to address identified gaps in the provision of health care locally.
Mark Lander, administrator of the Department of Health in Marion County, said, “The completion of the Community Health Needs Assessment is an important step for us and our community partners to inform Marion County residents about the strengths of our local health care system and opportunities for improvement. “I’m grateful to everyone who participated in this process, including AdventHealth Ocala, the Steering Committee, and the members of the public who provided feedback, and look forward to the next step, which will tell us how to build on the good things already happening in health care, and how to shore up the deficiencies.
Kimberly Williams, director of Community Benefit for AdventHealth West Florida Division, said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Florida Department of Health in Marion County to complete the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment. We look forward to working with the Marion County Steering Committee and our community to develop and implement a robust community health plan to address key social determinants impacting the health and well-being of Marion County residents.”
This was the first joint venture between DOH-Marion and AdventHealth Ocala in producing the CHNA. More than 60 representatives of community organizations assisted in this process. This group, known collectively as the CHNA Steering Committee, represented organizations involved in health care, local government, social services, education, law enforcement and business.
The Steering Committee sifted through data compiled during the assessment process and used that to establish priorities for future action. A major part of that work entailed reviewing data gathered in June during the Community Health Survey, which featured the input of more than 700 county residents and more than 100 local healthcare providers.
The Steering Committee ultimately set four broad priorities to be addressed or improved. They include:
Access to care: This encompasses improving primary care and eradicating provider shortages; reducing barriers to care such as financial or cultural concerns; improving health literacy.
Behavioral health: This calls for enhancing mental health and substance abuse services.
Wellness and preventative measures: This emphasizes promoting community safety, injury prevention, healthy behavior and decision-making, and better life-skills education.
Healthy aging: This advocates more supportive care for aging county residents, including more housing and temporary shelter for struggling elderly community members, as well as more services for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
With the priorities now established, the next step is to develop the Community Health Improvement Plan, or CHIP.
The CHIP process will develop the community’s goals under each of the four priorities and provide the details of how to achieve them.
The CHNA can be found here, while its technical appendix can be found here. The CHNA also can be found at DOH-Marion’s website — marion.floridahealth.gov — under the Community Health Planning and Statistics section.