We are excited to share our newly published 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment. The report is a bedrock document for Connecticut Children’s and our Office for Community Child Health. It summarizes expansive community health data into concise critical community health needs. It also provides clear recommendations to drive our work ensuring we strengthen communities, physician practices, and families to promote children’s optimal health, development and well-being.
The assessment takes an in-depth look at the greatest areas of need for Hartford residents, the city in which our hospital’s main campus is located, as identified by health leaders, community leaders, school nurses and city residents. As the assessment notes, residents of cities like Hartford continue to experience higher rates of chronic illness, developmental delays, injuries, violence, and trauma compared to suburban residents.
The assessment details the following four areas of greatest need for Hartford residents:
|Mental Health, Behavioral Health, and Trauma||Mental health ranked as the number one issue of concern facing Hartford residents, as identified in a survey of community leaders and health leaders. In a separate survey, school nurses identified behavioral health as the top concern facing children in Hartford schools, with violence ranking as the third highest concern. In addition, residents of our focus groups identified a dire need for more mental and behavioral health services, particularly for children. They also noted that depression among young children in Hartford is a need that must be addressed.|
|School Readiness||Community leaders and health leaders interviewed during our key informant session indicated an interest in learning more about education gaps in Hartford and how to address them. Their questions and comments centered on how absenteeism and transportation contribute to academic outcomes; whether affordability affects Pre-K and afterschool program participation; and how the Hartford curriculum compares to other districts. Residents who participated in our focus groups expressed concerns about a lack of affordable childcare, early learning opportunities, and children’s programming at library branches. School nurses identified a need for hospitals to assist with the provision of supplies as well as educational materials for students, teachers, classrooms and schools.|
|Childhood Obesity Prevention||Community leaders and health leaders interviewed during our key informant session identified food insecurity, which is a major contributor to childhood obesity, as the second issue of highest concern for Hartford residents. During focus groups, residents identified childhood obesity as one of the most pressing issues facing both children and adults. They named food deserts as a major factor in the obesity crisis, noting that their neighborhoods lack supermarkets, which reduces opportunities to access fresh fruits or vegetables. School nurses identified nutrition and a lack of opportunity to exercise as two of the five biggest health problems facing Hartford children. They also identified a lack of access to healthy foods and a lack of safe, stimulating play spaces as barriers that prevent children from maintaining healthy weight.|
|Housing, Environment and Community Factors||In a survey, community leaders and health leaders identified “poverty/food insecurity/lack of transportation” and “general lack of health care” as pressing issues for Hartford families. Other issues of concern included “housing affordability,” “income inequality and segregation,” and “housing quality/healthy homes.” During focus groups, residents identified asthma, injuries, accessing health services, and a lack of urgent care centers as top issues affecting children. School nurses identified a need to educate families to utilize primary care physicians, as opposed to emergency departments, which they stated is critical to ensuring continuity of care for optimal health.|
The assessment also makes nine recommendations, along with sub-recommendations, to address the identified needs, such as increasing access to health services for underserved children, increasing collaboration between clinical and community programs, enhancing early identification and intervention for at-risk children, strengthening education and outreach for injury and violence prevention, and increasing collaboration to facilitate school readiness.
At Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, we are proud to run a nationally recognized model for both identifying and addressing community needs. We stand ready to address and reduce disparities through a number of interventions and opportunities. By doing so, we can ensure health equity and stronger futures for all.
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Categories: Health Promotion