The good news is that people in the Quad-City region are healthier than in previous years.
Fewer people are smoking, more people engage in physical activity than the national average, more people have health care coverage, fewer are dying from heart disease and strokes, but a percentage of adults are still heavier than they should be.
And there still are needs in affordable health care access for some and getting people to eat healthier.
Those are all findings from a comprehensive health community assessment released Wednesday by partners from the health-care industry in Rock Island, Scott and Muscatine counties.
“We are encouraged by the number of things we wanted to work together on,” said Brooke Barnes, community health consultant for the Scott County Health Department. “We see some of the same needs at the last time we did this in 2015. It reaffirms what we are working on and gives us an overview of what areas we can do the most impact.”
A news conference took place at Community Health Care in Rock Island, one of the partners involved in the project. Others include the Rock Island, Scott and Muscatine county health departments, UnityPoint Health-Trinity, Genesis Health System and the Quad-City Health Initiative.
Nicole Carkner, executive director of the initiative, said it was created in 1999 “to become an active member in the community,” working with other health-care agencies. She said this is the fifth assessment they have completed since 2002.
According to the assessment, a key factor “is that a person's economic, educational and employment status, collectively, among other factors, called social determinants of health, have a significant impact on physical and mental health.”
“These findings renew the significance of promoting healthy behaviors, such as healthy eating and physical activity,” said Daniel Joiner, director, community engagement for UnityPoint-Trinity.
The assessment listed 13 areas of opportunity for health partners and the community at large. They are: access to health-care services; cancer; diabetes; heart disease and stroke; housing; infant health and family planning; injury and violence; kidney disease; mental health; nutrition, physical activity and weight; oral health; substance abuse; and tobacco use.
For example, access to health care offers many challenges. That includes inconvenient offices hours; cost of physician visits; appointment availability; finding a physician; and lack of transportation for some.
Janet Hill, COO of the Rock Island County Health Department, said it is not just the health agencies that should be pushing for these initiatives.
“Public health is every single person in the community,” she said. “The entire community is in charge of public health.”
“It is not surprising results. These are things we are currently working on,” said Christy Roby Williams, director of public health for UnityPoint Health-Trinity Muscatine.
“We will take the information and begin what we can to impact in collective ways with our health-care partners, our business partners, human services and county residents.”
Carkner said the assessment is used as a tool to help assess strengths and areas that need more help. “There are many similar findings as in prior assessments,” she said.
For example, there still is a need to encourage inclusion of more fruits and vegetables in individual diets.
The assessment was expanded this year to include Muscatine County.
Hal Wagher, chief compliance and enterprise risk officer for Genesis Health System, corporate compliance, said while the assessment shows more people have health care coverage, affordable health care and its status in the future was a concern listed in focus group.
However, the study also shows that there were some important benefits for those enrolled in the Affordable Health Care Act. He said that coverage helped many people with health issues.