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Priorities Determined By Catawba County Public Health

After more than a year of gathering and analyzing community feedback and available statistical data for our county, Catawba County Public Health and its community partners have decided on three health priorities to focus on for the next several years.

Access to healthy foods; brain health; and ensuring safe, engaging and active spaces emerged as priority areas in the newly-released 2023 Catawba County Community Health Assessment (CHA). All three priorities were chosen because they are inclusive and cross-cutting, which means improvements in these areas can have a positive impact on multiple health issues in our community. These priorities will shape health initiatives for Public Health and other community partners for the next several years as part of the Community Health Improvement Plan for 2024-2027.

The health priority selection process involved reviewing community survey results and gathered group feedback; and reviewing health statistics and other data, which shaped the final selection of our community health priorities. The new CHA also transforms what had previously been called mental health into brain health and provides a more encompassing umbrella over this work, which has been an identified priority for nearly a decade.

COVID-19’s impact on residents extended into their overall wellbeing, and one of the clearest trends emerging from this CHA was a sense of social isolation or lack of connectivity to the community. Less than half of the people who took the community survey reported feeling connected to their community and only half said they felt a sense of belonging. Community spaces are an important place where connections are often made. Creating spaces that are safe and accessible, allow for engaging community connections, promote opportunities for activity, and take into account individual needs and neighborhood dynamics gives all Catawba County residents an opportunity to make these critical connections and improve their overall health and quality of life.

Action plans outlining strategies to address the county’s health priorities are currently being developed. These will include efforts already underway throughout the community, as well as new strategies initiated through the LiveWell Catawba Coalition, which is a collaborative group of organizations facilitated by Public Health.

The full CHA report, which is published every four years and features a comprehensive overview of the county’s health status and health priorities, is available on the Catawba County Public Health web site at this link https://catawbacountync.gov/site/assets/files/2488/catawba_2023_cha_final3.pdf.

[News release courtesy of Catawba County Public Health]