Upper Peninsula Health Data Report released: full press release

UPPER PENINSULA, MI – The 458-page book, available on-line, includes health survey results; data on demographics, access to care, health across the lifespan, behavioral health and substance abuse; rankings of community health issues; and 15 county-level data summaries.

Six Upper Peninsula health departments and 36 community partners announce the release of the latest edition of the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) covering all 15 U.P. counties. The 458-page report, now available on-line to the general public, provides a wealth of information on the health status of U.P.’s 300,000 residents.

The newly published CHNA is the culmination of an 18 -month project led by local health departments in collaboration with hospitals, behavioral health agencies and health foundations. It includes data on health across the lifespan, access to care, community issues like drug abuse, and results from an extensive health survey conducted last August. Stakeholders will use the data to inform residents, identify priorities for community health improvement, and measure changes over time.

“Community health needs assessment and health improvement planning are core functions of public health,” said Kate Beer, the Western U.P. Health Department health officer. “The findings in t his report will help healthcare providers and com munities address the health needs of people across the region.”

Beer said the unique partnership of 42 organizations serving the U.P. continues to make it possible to conduct a comprehensive regional assessment of this breadth and depth.

“This is a very robust assessment, with county-level data on topics from pregnancy and births to leading causes of death,” said Beer. “With survey data from more than 3, 500 U.P. residents, we have a wealth of information on general health status and prevalence of chronic diseases; health behaviors like diet, exercise, and alcohol, tobacco and drug use; rates for accessing preventive care like checkups, dental visits, immunizations and cancer screenings; and rankings as to the relative importance of 1 6 broad health issues, based on respondents’ perceptions of their communities.”

The assessment’s key findings outlined in its executive summary include:

  • A first look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The impact of the region’s aging population on current and future healthcare needs;
  • The importance of prevention – reducing tobacco use, maintaining a healthy body weight, and not drinking to excess – in reducing rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases;
  • Disparities in health access, behaviors and outcomes for residents of various income and education levels;
  • Improvements in health insurance coverage over the past few years, countered by persistent wide spread health professional shortages for primary care, dental care, and behavioral health services; and
  • Residents’ concerns about issues including the high cost of health care, economic conditions, drug use, and shortage of mental health programs and services, among many community health issues.

The report also highlights emerging health issues, including the continued opioid epidemic and increased use of marijuana, and the expanding risk of tick-borne illness such as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis.

Although there are clearly challenges ahead, local health officials express optimism at the prospects for improving the health of U.P. residents.

“With the information in this assessment at hand, stakeholders can identify priorities and focus on finding meaningful solutions to each community’s most pressing needs,” said Beer. “Data-driven planning will help us make the best use of limited resources, and could also bring new programs and funding to our region.”

For more information and to view or download the full report and 15 county summaries, visit www.wupdhd.org/upchna