Community Health Improvement Week (Opinion)
June 12–18 is Community Health Improvement Week; a time to recognize the people and organizations working in partnership to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Health can be measured in many ways; there are both medical health and basic needs that influence our well-being.
Every three years, through a Community Health Needs Assessment, we identify our area’s top three health concerns, which continue to be mental health, substance abuse, and access to care, both here and in many other communities throughout the nation. Barton works cooperatively with regional health and social service providers to address and improve these complex health concerns.
These specific health concerns play a critical role in a community’s overall health, though there is a precursor to those benchmarks; before an individual can make progress on improving their health from a medical standpoint, they have to have basic needs met. Those basic needs may be governed by social determinants of health — such as access to food, safe housing, and transportation. At the end of the day, without these basic needs, a person is less likely to fulfill other needs that may become critical, such as receiving proactive medical treatment or taking medications.
Concerns regarding basic needs persist in the Lake Tahoe community, as well as nationwide, and take collaboration to address. Many organizations and groups are working together to build programs and provide resources to address basic needs so our population can achieve better health.
For example: non-profit organizations, such as Bread and Broth and Christmas Cheer, work to address food insecurity in Lake Tahoe by distributing quality food to those in need; The city of South Lake Tahoe continues to build programs and initiatives to improve housing opportunity and affordability; and the South Shore Transportation Management Association recently launched Lake Link, a micro-transit system that offers a free rideshare program to individuals needing transportation in South Lake Tahoe.
All of these programs are critically important, and by addressing basic needs, contribute to a better foundation of health in our community. Only from a place of better basic health, can our community go on to seek care, manage illness, and thrive.Community health and collaboration is foundational to Barton’s mission. We are proud to serve our community’s health and we have immense gratitude for the commitment of the partners involved in this effort. We look forward to creating a healthier community, together.
Chris Proctor is the Director of Community Benefit with Barton Health. To learn more about Barton Health’s Community Health Needs Assessments, visit BartonHealth.org/CommunityHealth.
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