For the first time, the Volusia and Flagler counties’ health departments initiated a collaborative Community Health Assessment identifying the key health needs and issues in both counties.
The 10-month assessment process that also involved AdventHealth, Halifax Health, One Voice for Volusia, Flagler Cares and SMA Healthcare identified three priority health issues: access to behavioral health services, economic and social barriers and system infrastructure.
Access to behavioral health services is primarily an issue in Flagler County, while economic and social barriers and system infrastructure are in some ways issues in both counties.
“This three-year cycle is the first time we collaborated to get this Community Health Assessment accomplished so that we are clear on what the health priorities are for both Volusia and Flagler counties,” said Bob Snyder, the administrator for the Florida Department of Health-Flagler. “And as it turns out, they’re pretty much the same priorities.”
Thanks to SMA Healthcare and legislative grants, the Flagler Access Center will be able to help people with behavioral issues, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Snyder said.
“Flagler County and Volusia County both are among the highest overdose death rates per capita in the state of Florida. Flagler is ranked eighth in the state. Behavioral health has been at the top of our priority list now for the last nine years, and we need to do something about it.”
— BOB SNYDER, DOH-Flagler administrator
“It’s a great start, but we need to do so much more,” he said. “Flagler County and Volusia County both are among the highest overdose death rates per capita in the state of Florida. Flagler is ranked eighth in the state. Behavioral health has been at the top of our priority list now for the last nine years, and we need to do something about it.”
Both county health departments have received CDC grants to address addiction issues. Flagler was recently notified that it will receive $1.4 million in grants to address overdose deaths and addictions.
“We're working with our community partners to put together a plan and get an addiction stabilization program initiated here in Flagler because right now, we really don't have much to offer relative to addressing addiction,” Snyder said. “Yes, SMA has services for people suffering from substance use disorders in Volusia County, but we don’t have anything here locally.”
The second priority, economic and social barriers include affordable childcare, childcare services for special needs children and affordable housing. In Volusia, issues also include supporting households in poverty and increasing the percentage of people who have health insurance.
The third priority, system infrastructure seeks to improve the ability of schools, the justice system, healthcare providers and public health departments to share information.
Flagler Cares has initiated a referral management system called LINC (Linking Individuals to Networks of Care).
“We think this LINC system, as it expands, can be a solution to this system infrastructure issue,” Snyder said.
Taryn Korkus-Nix, DOH-Volusia’s public health services manager, said, in the past, the Community Health Assessment has focused on niche issues, such as increasing vaccination for particular age groups. This year, with multiple organizations assisting, the focus was on big topics.
“There’s a recognition that public health is not just a local health department issue. It involves community partners such as hospitals, government, schools, community organizations, as well as the health departments,” she said.
The next step is developing a collaborative Community Health Improvement Plan, which will done over the next few months, health department officials said.
To view the Community Health Assessment, go to https://bit.ly/3PKvhE2