Community Health Assessment Put in Hands of City Leaders and Health Professionals by Sentara Health Foundation
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Community Health Assessment Put in Hands of City Leaders and Health Professionals by Sentara Health Foundation 

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Norfolk, VA – September 28, 2004 – Almost 130,000 Hampton Roads adults have lost six or more teeth, because they cannot afford dental care. Often these people end up in area emergency rooms seeking pain relief for an abscess tooth with virtually no where else to go for treatment. These are the same people who may have deferred a necessary clinical procedure until oral infection was managed.

More than 176,000 people in Hampton Roads are estimated to be uninsured with a majority well below federal poverty guidelines. Many simply cannot afford health care necessities.

Findings from 2004 Hampton Roads Community Health Assessment (PDF file) reveal that the region’s top five health issues are access to: basic health care, chronic care, mental health and substance abuse services, maternal and infant services, and oral health services. A sample of findings are:

-While 97,000 area residents are uninsured with income below 200% of poverty, free clinics and community health centers serve about 33,000 of that population a year;
-Uninsured adults are 25% more likely to die prematurely;
-Hospitalization for diabetes exceeds state rates in 5 area cities;
-All 7 cities exceed the state death rate for heart disease; 6 exceed the state death rate for cancer;
-72,400 adults in the area have serious mental illness; and
-Low birth weight exceeds state rate in 5 area cities.

The study, recently commissioned by Sentara Health Foundation, assesses the health needs of more than 1.3 million people spread over 800 square miles and includes in the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach.

Access Partnership, a community collaboration of diverse stakeholders stands ready to take the lead in addressing the region’s top priorities. Following the public work session scheduled for Tuesday, September 28 involving local health departments, health care professionals, and city leaders, Access Partnership will create a 5-year strategic plan focussing on the region’s priorities.

To formalize its continued commitment to Access Partnership, Sentara Healthcare has pledged $50,000 each year for five years—a total of $250,000—to help fund Access Partnership’s efforts to design effective responses to the region’s unmet healthcare needs. Fund raising and grant writing will continue to be sources for Access Partnership’s annual budget.

About the Study
Community Health Solutions, Inc. was commissioned by Sentara Health Foundation to prepare a broad, regional health assessment. Using publicly available health information and estimates, combined with a survey of about 80 local health professionals, the study identifies areas of greatest concern to community health. A similar study was commissioned by Williamsburg Community Health Foundation for the Williamsburg area in 2003.

About Access Partnership
Access Partnership, formally established in 2002, is a regional collaborative of more than 30 health providers, agencies and public entities taking a leadership role in developing a comprehensive responsive to the region’s greatest health concerns.

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