Somerset County Community Health Needs Assessment Lists Accomplishments and Challenges

BEACON at Salisbury University has released the 2018 Comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment Report for Somerset County. The study, funded jointly by the Somerset County Health Department and McCready Health, lists several wins for the county as well as a number of continuing challenges.The study, based on a meta-analysis of public and private sector data from multiple sources and detailed interviews with public health opinion leaders, key informants and representatives of health care provider organizations in the county shows significant progress is being made in the areas of:

  • Immunizations
  • Reductions in infectious diseases
  • Tobacco cessation programs
  • Improved environmental health, and
  • Comprehensive diabetes education efforts.

There are continually challenges. Obesity and diabetes continue to be major health concerns. Somerset County has the highest rate of obesity in Maryland with 42% of the county’s residents having a BMI over 30. The county is also continuing to struggle with health care access and affordability issues. The high poverty rate in the county and persistent resource limitations combine to make these challenges harder to overcome.

Limited public transportation offerings, limited exercise programs and weight loss areas in the area were also listed as impediments to further progress in improving the residents’ health outcomes. Some of the health outcomes in the county trending lower than state averages are:

  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Behavioral Health
  • Alzheimer’s and other dementia cases
  • Tobacco use
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer, and
  • Oral health.

In addition to these and other wins and challenges listed, the BEACON study contains a number of recommendations for the future as well. Topping the list is a call to continue and even enhance the current efforts to pool/leverage existing and potential resources to increase funds, personnel and know-how. An improved focus on education, outreach and prevention; strengthening partnerships (i.e., faith and community-based organizations); breaking down silos and allocating funding to patients and not only to providers (case-based resource allocation) are some of the other recommendations.

You can read the entire report here.


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