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Study Identifies Calvert County’s Top Health Concerns

Mobile Health Center Is Helping Break Barriers to Access

Cancer, heart disease and stroke along with mental health, exercise, nutrition and weight (including obesity) once again topped the list of health concerns for Calvert County residents as reported in the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), according to Erin Farley, MSN, RN, who manages community wellness at CalvertHealth.

CalvertHealth conducts the needs assessment every three years to identify the most pressing health needs in the community. The findings help the organization prioritize health care strategies to address the most pressing needs for our community. Farley stressed that special attention is given to the needs of vulnerable populations and unmet health needs or gaps in service.

“The survey gives us insight into the areas where we and our community partners need to focus our resources to make the most meaningful impact,” said Farley.

To prepare the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment, CalvertHealth gathered data on demographics, health outcomes, health behaviors, social and environmental conditions as well as key community leader interviews and feedback from community surveys.

Even though the county was in the midst of dealing with the COVID pandemic while the survey was being conducted, Farley said they received nearly 800 responses, representative of the overall demographics of Calvert County.

She went on to add, “We’re already working on our implementation strategy to address the priorities identified. The plan will include clear goals that can be monitored, reported on and revised over the next three-year period.”

Making Progress On Priorities

Equally important,” said Farley, “is ongoing evaluation of our progress from our last assessment in 2017.” Highlights are listed below and are also included in the most recent 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment.

Cancer – To improve early detection of cancer and help reduce the prevalence of cancer in the community, an emphasis was placed on education and screenings for skin, breast, lung and oral cancers. Several events were held throughout the county, which drew more than 700 community members.

Heart Disease & Stroke – CalvertHealth focused on educating the community in understanding what contributes to heart disease and stroke. In collaboration with local senior centers, an Ask-the- Expert program was implemented, bringing weekly health education services. Additionally, the Senior Life Center was started in three senior centers, focusing on chronic disease management and healthy lifestyle changes.

Mental Health – In early 2019, CalvertHealth Medical Center launched a $5.2-million renovation to its behavioral health unit. When complete, it will be the largest mental health center in Southern Maryland.

Exercise, Nutrition & Weight – Several programs were developed to increase the importance of healthy eating to reduce the onset of diseases. These programs focused on strategies for weight loss and increasing physical activity among participants and will be an important component within the 2020 action plan objectives.

Mobile Health Center Extends Outreach

“Our mobile health center gives county residents easy access to the health care they need by meeting people where they are,” said Farley. Since 2016, the mobile health center has traveled thousands of miles to visit hundreds of stops from farmer’s markets and senior centers to food pantries and Head Start programs.

CalvertHealth’s Mobile Health Center is helping to address the lack of transportation which was identified as an obstacle for some residents seeking care.

According to Farley, the mobile health center is part of a broader effort where the long-term strategy is to provide people with the resources they need – like regular screenings – so they can take action to prevent chronic disease.

She said the mobile health center has also played a critical role by scheduling appointments for follow-up care, filling out paperwork for insurance and researching payment options.

“A big part of what we do is patient education and empowerment,” said Farley. “Many of the people we see are just feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to navigate the healthcare system.

“Our goal is to help you figure out your individual path to wellness,” she said, “and to help you overcome any barriers to get the care you need.”
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