Letter from the Director of Public Health
Dear Fellow Elm City Resident:
For the Health Department, 2012 was a productive and successful year. Over the last year, the various programs in the Department tracked and monitored trends of communicable diseases, ensured the safety of the food delivery system, continued educating the public on health issues, assisted parents and children at high risk, and prepared for and responded to disease outbreaks and emergencies.
This past year, the Department collaborated with Yale-New Haven Hospital, Fair Haven Community Health Center, Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, CARE – Community Alliance for Research and Engagement at Yale University, and DataHaven to develop a community health assessment (CHA) report and a subsequent community health improvement plan (CHIP). Under the Affordable Care Act, both hospitals and public health agencies are required to complete a community assessment. Yale-New Haven Hospital needs to maintain its non-profit status with the IRS and the Health Department needs to seek accreditation from the National Public Health Accreditation Board. A survey conducted by CARE in six under-resourced neighborhoods and a city-wide survey conducted by DataHaven provided the primary data platform. Some key health findings from the surveys for participants ages 18-65 are: while 18% of participants city-wide self- reported their health as poor or fair, this proportion increased to 27% for participants living in under-resourced neighborhoods; 26% of city residents were found to be obese, and alarmingly
43% of participants in the poorest neighborhoods were also reported as being obese; the prevalence of smoking is higher than the state average fluctuating between 29% in poor neighborhoods and 24% for all city residents. In 2013, the Department will continue collaborating with the community partners to develop an action-oriented plan outlining the priority community health issues. The plan will be based on the results of the community assessment and input obtained from the community on how to address identified issues. These efforts are intended to serve as the roadmap to strengthen public-private partnership, redirect allocations for public health programs, and guide policy making in the City.
The Department continued its efforts to enhance school health services in alignment with the City’s priorities around school reform. In collaboration with the New Haven Public Schools, the Department established the School Health Services Advisory Board. The mission of the Advisory Board is to ensure optimal education and public health outcomes for New Haven public school students through integrated management and coordinated programmatic delivery of school- based health services. The Advisory Board identified seven critical gaps in school health services in the New Haven public schools, which it began to address in 2013. Those include the introduction of a health education curriculum in the schools, reorganizing the school nursing and school clinics services and the implementation of a school-based electronic health records. The goal is to strengthen school health services to ensure students are healthy and fit to obtain academic success.
The Health Department continues to carefully track the developments associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. With the enactment of this law came the expansion of Medicaid and transition to insurance exchanges in the State. The Health Department is working to enhance its capacity to provide services to the community within the new health care structure, especially within the schools as a result of this expansion
Mario Garcia, MD, M.Sc. MPH
Director of Public Health