Jacksonville area hospitals release report on community health issues


Every three years, Jacksonville-area hospitals ask residents of five northeast Florida counties what they collectively suffer from and whether they face any barriers to seeking care.

The last Community Health Needs Assessment, a comprehensive 109-page paper released on Thursday, revealed the same major nagging issues described in previous studies – mental health, chronic illnesses and lack of access to care. According to the report, each has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and long-standing inequalities in health care.

Among other things, the 2022 report also noted the “critical need for culturally competent and sensitive care” for patients of color and LGBTQ+ status, as well as worryingly below average life expectancy rates. State in all northeast Florida counties except St. Jean.

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“It’s kind of like a checkup. … Like going to the doctor,” said Michael Mayo, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “Knowing what’s going well, what’s not.”

The federally required assessment was commissioned by the Jacksonville Nonprofit Hospital Partnership, which includes five health systems and 13 hospital campuses serving northeast Florida.

The postcode-based study helps identify “hot spots” for the partnership and the community to target its efforts, such as lack of access to healthcare, housing and nutritious food, Mayo said. The partnership already has two collaborative action plans, including an electronic patient referral system.

The second implements Blue areasa national program that helps change people’s health behaviors by transforming their neighborhoods, such as adding sidewalks to encourage walking and community gardens to improve nutrition in food deserts.

How the study was conducted

The latest assessment is the fourth conducted since the partnership was established in 2011. Led by the Northeast Florida Health Planning Council, the study gathered data from focus groups, interviews with stakeholders key stakeholders and surveys in five northeast Florida counties. The data is compared to national benchmarks to determine the health status of the region.

“We are called to provide clinically excellent, compassionate and personalized care to all, and the information gathered through the Community Health Needs Assessment helps us better understand the changing needs of those we are privileged to to serve,” said Tom VanOsdol, President and CEO. from Ascension to Florida and the Gulf Coast. “This assessment allows us to dig deep into relevant data and hear directly from members of our community about what they need most.”

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Approximately 1,300 residents participated. In addition to the three main concerns, the study cited cancer, substance abuse, maternal and child health, as well as the health effects of housing, poverty and lack of transportation.


In a joint statement, Mayo partnership leaders VanOsdol and fellow hospital CEOs Doug Baer of Brooks Rehabilitation, Kent Thielen of Mayo Clinic Florida and Russ Armistead of UF Health Jacksonville said they are “committed to solving the problems that afflict the most vulnerable among us”.

“The report was produced at an unprecedented time when our community and country have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and as our country has experienced multiple incidents of racial injustice,” the statement said. “Systemic racism, incidents of discrimination, and cultural incompetence are drivers of racial inequities in health. As a result, each of our health systems actively engages in diversity, equity, and diversity efforts. inclusion to identify and work to address racial inequities in health.”

Identify gaps in health care

The partnership has previously sponsored programs such as Mental Health First Aid, which teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders; and Project Save Lives, which provides aftercare services to men living with substance use disorder.

The assessment “has been an extremely useful undertaking in helping us identify specific gaps in health care,” Baer said. “We are excited to now have this information that Brooks will use as we move forward in developing solutions.”

The fact that the top three issues in the 2022 study are familiar does not indicate a lack of improvement, Armistead said.

“This trend exists despite a slew of best practice initiatives that are in place in our city,” he said. “These initiatives…are working towards common goals of improving health disparities, but the challenge continues. Although we are moving slowly, we suspect we are mitigating trends that could be much worse if we did not focus on them. .”


The key to continued improvement, Armistead said, will be to tackle socioeconomic status, education and access to transportation, affordable housing and healthy food. Up to 50% of an individual’s health is determined by these social factors.

These factors can lead to racial and ethnic disparities in health care, Thielen said.

“They have a higher risk because they lack the resources,” he said. “The pandemic has heightened our awareness of needs.”

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Extensive, community-wide efforts are needed to tackle all the problems and their multiple causes.

“These are some of the biggest challenges facing the community,” Thielen said. “Multiple approaches are needed to deal with it… Groups coming together.

Blue Zones will do just that by “reaching into the heart” of neighborhoods, Mayo said. A Blue Zones feasibility study has already been completed in Jacksonville and the program will launch on June 2.

The program is based on transplanting healthy habits from seven places around the world “where people live long and vibrant lives in good health”, he said. Mayo hopes for broad community support, including city hall and other governments who can develop policies to start the process.

“Policies are going through a lot of other things that allow these things to happen,” like new sidewalks inciting more movement, he said. “A lot of agencies do a lot of very good work [to improve community health]. But isn’t it tied together in one effort.”

bcravey@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4109


To read the report, go to hpcnef.org/jacksonville-nonprofit-hospital-partnership-community-health-needs-assessment. For more information on Blue Zones in Jacksonville, go to bluezones.com/activate-jacksonville.


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