access to care, mental health, nutrition and exercise, diabetes

FISHERSVILLE, Va. (WHSV) – Augusta Health hosted a Community Health Needs Assessment meeting on Wednesday, July 27, which assessed health needs for the Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro areas.

These reviews take place every three years; the last was in 2019.

The hospital said it would pay particular attention to access to health care, mental health, diet and exercise, and diabetes.

General health

The presentation started with a look at the general health of the community. The majority would consider themselves to be in good or excellent health, and 17.6% said they would consider their health to be fair or poor.

Bruce Lockwood of the Professional Research Consultants Group presented the information and said the percentage of people in fair or poor health is “statistically higher” than in the US or Virginia.

“The sharp contrast is the income level. For our purposes, this low-income category includes individuals who make up to 200% of the federal poverty level, which is approximately 52,000 for a family of four. They are not necessarily the poorest, it is a percentage that includes many families in the community,” he explained.

Access to care

In the Augusta County area, nearly 8% of people have no insurance of any kind. Lockwood said that is in accordance with the commonwealth and the nation. However, there are other barriers to accessing care.

About 45.8% of people said they have experienced barriers to care.

“That is higher than we see nationally. It has increased over time. It was about 37% in 2016, about 40% in 2019, about 46% now,” said Lockwood.

27% of respondents said they missed making a doctor’s appointment because they couldn’t make an appointment. That is 15% nationally. 16% of people said they declined an appointment because they couldn’t find a doctor. That is 9% nationally.

One factor that has improved for the locals is transportation.

Mental health

21% of people said their mental health was fair or poor, up from 8.7% in 2016.

Nearly 23% of people said they received some sort of behavioral health treatment. Lockwood reported that there are about 70 mental health practitioners in the Augusta County area.

“For population size, that’s pretty typical for the state, but it’s well below the national provider-to-population ratio,” Lockwood said.

8% of people reported that they could not have received treatment when they wanted to, and this is increasing for at-risk groups such as women, young adults and lower-income residents.

Diet, exercise and weight

72% of adults in their area are overweight or obese, which is higher than in the US, 61%, or in Virginia, 67%.

Regarding food insecurity, 21% of people were concerned about running out of food or running out. That rate is better than the national rate of 34%.

About 14% of people in the area meet current physical activity recommendations. That number has fallen since the last measurement.

diabetes mellitus

15% of respondents in the Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro areas reported being diagnosed with diabetes and 15% said they were diagnosed with prediabetes.

The data is used to better serve the area. Click here for more information on the 2016 and 2019 ratings.

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