New report identifies Crawford County’s top health issues

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The first step to finding a solution is knowing what the problem is – that’s the reasoning behind the new Crawford County Health Partners community health needs assessment.

The 140-page document, published last week, examines both health problems in the community and the factors that contribute to these problems, explained Kate Siefert, health commissioner for Crawford County Public Health.

“It’s pretty comprehensive, but that’s the whole point, is to take a deep look at it,” she said.

The 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment identifies depression, drug overdose deaths, youth drug use, suicide and heart disease as the five most pressing issues.

“This report is based on epidemiological, qualitative, quantitative and comparative methods to help guide local decisions about how to best meet the health needs of our community,” according to a press release from Crawford County Public Health. “The information provided in the report is essential for those who are able to positively impact the health of residents of the Crawford County community. The assessment identifies key health issues, service gaps, disparities and opportunities.”

Mental health, a major concern

Siefert said she was not surprised to see mental health cited as a major problem in the report. She monitors the number of reported suicidal ideation in the county — people who present to an urgent care center or emergency room because they have thoughts of harming themselves or have harmed themselves.

“And that’s what worries me,” Siefert said. “Because as we go our numbers are pretty high. We see more suicidal ideation in a month than we do drug overdoses. And people want to talk about drug overdose and prevent overdose drugs, get help for those. But what we do ‘ We don’t talk as much about people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.”

Each month this year, the number of reported suicidal ideation has increased compared to the same month a year earlier.

As of January 2021, 16 have been reported; in January, it was 28. February saw 26 reports, compared to 24 in 2021. In March, it was 26, compared to 19. In April, the figure rose from 15 in 2021 to 36 this year, more than half double. In May, the number rose from 22 to 40.

“And it’s a very underreported issue,” Siefert added. “We know that’s not a real number. We can monitor it for trends, but it’s not a real number because a lot of people aren’t showing up to the ER. If they just thought about it, or if they didn’t Sometimes nobody knows, or because of the stigma they don’t want to go to a doctor, they don’t want to go to the emergency room because they don’t want anyone to know.

“So even though these numbers are there and it’s a trend, we cling to the fact that these are not concrete numbers. However, this trend makes me very nervous.”

For a small community, those are pretty significant numbers, she said. The youngest person to report suicidal ideation was 6 and the oldest was 79, she said. The average age was 26 years old.

“They just think it’s a teenage problem, and it’s not,” she said. “We see it younger and we also see people struggling in their old age. And those are all postcodes.”

The study points out that in Crawford, the ratio of residents to mental health provider – 720 to one – is almost double the ratio of Ohio, 380 to one. “This clearly illustrates the need for more mental health care providers in Crawford County,” Siefert said.

Kate Siefert, health commissioner for Crawford County Public Health.

Because it can take a while for death certificates to be issued, suicide numbers in the county might not be available for months, she said.

“I really think we need to recognize the mental health needs of our county,” she said. “I think we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about the fact that we have mental health needs in this county. There’s a lot of depression. We have to recognize that people need help and it’s normal that “they need help. We need to step up and help them get the help they need.”

People need to learn not to be afraid to approach someone they suspect is having trouble, she said. Sometimes a simple question – “Hey, are you thinking about hurting yourself?” – may be the tipping point to that person seeking help.

“It’s something we all need to take to heart and realize it’s our responsibility,” Siefert said. “The only way to improve the mental health of our community is to come together as a community to address it. It’s not someone else’s problem; it’s our problem together as a community. to help each other….

“I don’t know what our community can fully do, but I know we have to come together and do something.”

What happens afterwards?

Determining what this might be is part of the next step in the community health needs assessment.

In a few months, Crawford County health partners will begin hosting improvement planning meetings, Siefert said. A community health improvement plan for the next three years will be completed by the end of the year.

The group will choose the two or three most important issues to focus on over the next three years and develop an action plan for what needs to be done.

Avita Health System - Bucyrus Hospital

“The first year we tried to tackle 10 priorities. Well, that divided our efforts too much and we decided no, we couldn’t do that. We really have to focus on something in order to really be able to improve and move on.” Siefert said. “Because they’re all important, they all influence each other. Sometimes the hardest thing is picking one, two or three things that we’re going to focus on over the next few days. years.

“But then it gets exciting because then we talk about all the things we can do. We look at the things we’re already doing, how we can improve them. We look at where our gaps are in our services – what are we doing? do you think we need to bring in county crawford do we know of anything in another county that works, and maybe we can do it here is there a new partner we need to come to help and guide us?”

Data from previous assessments has helped community members receive grants and create programs to help raise awareness of substance use issues, increase education and understanding of trauma-informed care, provide screenings for depression and suicide, expanding medical weight loss programs, implementing diabetes prevention programs. and combat food insecurity, according to the new statement.

For example, after the last evaluation, the Crawford County Drug Overdose Death Review was created to offer recommendations on how to prevent such deaths.

What is Crawford County Health Partners?

Crawford County Health Partners is “more or less a coalition of local entities and agencies that are focused on improving the health and well-being of Crawford County, whether it’s providing services, to provide physical care or mental health care or, in our view, the public health aspect,” she explained. “It’s good that it’s diverse because we don’t get stuck focusing on one way or another.”

More than 20 local organizations are members. The new community health needs assessment is the third such report from the coalition.

“There’s an IRS requirement for nonprofit hospitals to do an evaluation every three years, and then Ohio has a requirement for health departments to align with their hospitals,” Siefert explained. .

Several member organizations of Crawford County Health Partners paid a consultant, Moxley Public Health, $25,000 to create the report and a subsequent improvement plan. The majority of costs are covered by the Avita Health System, Crawford County Public Health and the Galion Health Department, Siefert said.

“To identify and address critical community health needs, Crawford County Health Partners (CCHP) used the most current and reliable information from existing sources and then collected new data through interviews with community leaders and an online health needs prioritization survey,” the report states.

ggoble@gannett.com

419-559-7263

Learn more

The report is available online at the websites of Avita Health System Where Crawford County Public Health.

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