New assessment highlights differences among population groups in Mesa County

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) released the 2018-2020 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in June. This year, the CHNA, emphasizes the definition of health as a state of complete well-being highly influenced by the social and physical conditions in which we live. The assessment is rooted in the belief that in order to solve our most difficult community challenges, we must understand the population groups experiencing significant differences and the barriers impeding their access to resources and opportunities.

This version of the assessment is based on a public health framework adapted from the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, which considers six cross-cutting themes related to health including social factors, institutional factors and living conditions and how they affect risk behaviors, disease and injury and overall mortality.

The population groups in Mesa County found to be at a greater disadvantage include children younger than 18, Hispanics or Latinos, single women with children younger than 18, adults without a bachelor’s degree and Clifton residents.

Some of the areas of concern identified in Mesa County include:

  • Mesa County’s median household income is $12,000 less than Colorado’s.
  • Eighteen percent of children are living in poverty.
  • Only 34 percent of children age three to four are enrolled in preschool.
  • Families who are at the federal poverty level have a household income of approximately $24,000. They need twice that amount in order to make ends meet.

“Historically, public health has approached health issues with traditional methods – if you want people to lose weight, tell them to exercise; if your community has a high rate of tobacco use, give them resources to quit,” MCPH Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said. “When you’re faced with a way of life that includes inadequate housing or food insecurity, you’re not able to focus on something like losing weight or quitting tobacco. Health is a multifaceted part of our lives and we, as a community, need to approach it as such.”

Analyzing community data based on this framework is confirming something we’ve known all along. Our community and our most vulnerable families are facing real struggles, and most concerning, they don’t have the means or resources to provide the best opportunities for their kids; our next generation.

“If we work together, upstream and across public and private sectors, we have a real shot at improving overall health through culture change in the Grand Valley,” Kuhr said.

Click here, then click on “Community Health Needs Assessments” to read the CHNA in full.

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