National Public Health Week tackles disparities in community health

DELMARVA -“Its a chance to take a step back and focus on not just what we can do as individuals but what we can all do as a community to protect and prioritize public health,” Director of Community Health Initiatives at TidalHealth Kat Rodgers said.

For this year’s National Public Health Week, health experts are focused on bringing access to care and resources right into the community,  a need we’re told was heightened by the pandemic.

“For years and years, the funding and support for public health was dwindling,” Rodgers said. “And it helped the general public and community understand or start to understand how important public health is.”

This year’s theme is Public Health is Where You Are, meaning your county, town, and zip code can all have a significant impact on your health status and quality of life.

The week also puts a focus on the healthcare heroes working on the frontline daily, whose jobs have evolved, and gotten tougher during the last two years. “There’s been a lot of burn out and consider that moving forward to make sure that our public health workforce is dynamic and robust,” Worcester County Health Department Public Affairs Officer Travis Brown said.

The Director of Community Health Initiatives at TidalHealth says many barriers to health care go beyond the physical which include race, age, gender, education level, and more.

“We’re seeing that a lot of those social driver factors are impacting areas in Princess Anne, and Crisfield, and areas in Salisbury,” Rodgers said. “And when you overlay those kinds of things, then you see where the greatest burden is in our various communities.”

It’s that information is that industry experts say helps set priorities to improve and create health equity, but change takes all hands on deck. “Mental Health, suicide awareness, we target these specific areas of public health, get funding for it and use that to create programs, positions, and platforms to address those needs,” Brown said.

“It’s not just the health departments or the hospital that’s doing this work, local people can make an impact in their own communities,” Rodgers said.

To put some of those disparities into perspective, Worcester County’s Community Health Assessment of 2021 shows that the number of people in the county without health insurance has significantly declined during the last decade. That same rate then dropped almost to zero for those over the age of 64.

Other themes for the week include accessibility to care, climate change impacts,  and mental health.

The Worcester County Health Department is holding events all week and will be active on social media. To find out more information, click here.

To find out more about NPHW, click here.

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