News from HCHD
Partners Collaborate on Telephone Survey to Attack Howard County Health Needs Despite Being Healthiest in State
The Howard County Health Department and partners Horizon Foundation, Howard County General Hospital and Columbia Association announced the results of the first biennial Howard County Health Assessment Survey, a comprehensive telephone survey conducted over the course of several months during the Summer and Fall of 2012. The Howard County Health Department and partners Horizon Foundation, Howard County General Hospital and Columbia Association announced the results of the first biennial Howard County Health Assessment Survey, a comprehensive telephone survey conducted over the course of several months during the Summer and Fall of 2012. “Howard County is the healthiest County in Maryland, but we can always do better. This survey provides us with a useful roadmap to guide us so we can better direct our resources and target our energies. We need to expand our initiatives and work harder to eliminate the health disparities that exist in our community, especially in the areas of access to care, chronic disease prevention, exercise and increased access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.” said County Executive Ken Ulman.
Over 2,000 people participated in the survey that was comprised of 97 questions and was offered in both English and Spanish. Calls were made to landlines and cellular telephones to maximize the number of people who participated. In order to achieve the most scientifically accurate results, two established, validated assessment tools were employed; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the Quality Metric SF Health Survey; one of the most widely used tools in the world for measuring patient-reported outcomes.
A number of Howard County specific questions designed to capture data about local health priorities supplemented the original survey. Respondents’ answers provided insight into childhood obesity prevention, access to care, local implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and effects on minority communities that wasn’t available in the 2007 BRFSS study or in the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings. Unique to this tool, was not only the ability to analyze the basic demographics of County residents, but to drill down and target a need within a population of a specific geographic area. "We are incredibly fortunate to have such a comprehensive picture of health in Howard County to help plan targeted interventions" said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, President and C.E.O. of The Horizon Foundation. "For Horizon, the study's outcomes confirm that our priorities of promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing access to care are appropriate given the health challenges in our community."
The categories of Healthy Weight and Nutrition, Health Care/Insurance Access, Behavioral Health, Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Usage were key areas of interest for all of the partners. Once the categories were established, survey results were analyzed by: income, race/ethnicity, education, location, marital status, gender and age. Most disparities were related to race/ethnicity, income and education. Dr. Maura Rossman Howard County Health Officer, says “even though we are the healthiest County in the state, many of our neighbors do not have access to healthcare for even the most basic of needs; medical or dental. We now have specific data to enable us to focus our resources into the areas of greatest need and help residents to live healthier, longer lives.”
As has been demonstrated, Howard County is essentially a healthy community There were several key health indicators for improvement: Obesity - 56% of our community is overweight, Access to Care - over 17,000 people lack health insurance, Behavioral Health – 1 in 4 people are exposed to second-hand smoke inside of their homes from an outside source i.e.: another apartment, a hallway, laundry area, or adjacent townhome.
Moving forward each partner will undertake a unique approach to address the health challenges raised by the results of the survey based on their varying disciplines, areas of expertise and the populations they serve. Paul Gleichauf, Senior Vice President, Planning and Marketing for Howard County General Hospital adds “We are delighted to be a partner in bringing this survey to fruition. It is only through such collaboration that we could undertake such a significant research project to better understand health issues in our community. We have already put this data to work in a collaborative Community Health Needs Assessment exercise with more than 20 community partners to set hospital priorities for improving community health to build a better, healthier Howard County.”
The Howard County Health Assessment Survey will be repeated in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The results will indicate whether outreach, programs and other means used to address disparities are making a positive change in the health of residents.
May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
This month is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the importance of prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer, including basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually in more than 2 million people.
Skin Cancer Facts
- Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year.
- The most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma. The highest melanoma rates are on the Eastern and Western Shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the Central Maryland counties.
- Melanoma, while accounting for only about 5% of all skin cancers, is responsible for over 75% of skin cancer deaths. It is the most rapidly increasing form of cancer, more than doubling in the last 30 years.
- Malignant melanoma is the most preventable type of cancer. The major risk factor is childhood sunburn. Just one or two blistering sunburns double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life.
"Melanoma Monday" kicks off the Month and "Don't Fry Friday" wraps it up.
"Melanoma Monday" is a campaign from the American Academy of Dermatology to "spot" skin cancer. Wear orange and encourage others to join you to remeber to make changes in and to perform skin self-exams to detect skin cancer early. Click HERE to download a Body Mole Map which will help you note the observations of your self-examination.
The first line of defense against skin cancer starts with you.
"Don't Fry Day" is Friday, May 24th and reminds everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. You can protect your skin by following the good sense recommendations below!
Here are 10 Ways to Protect Your Sun Guard Your Skin
1. Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
2. Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds.
3. Generously apply a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 Re-apply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
4. Wear sun protective clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat and a long sleeved, dark colored shirt.
5. Wear UV protective sunglasses.
6. Seek shade of umbrellas, trees, and awnings.
7. Use extra caution when near water, sand, snow, and concrete, as they reflect the UV rays.
8. Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet; don’t seek the sun!
9. Send sunscreen to school and camp with your children and encourage them to use it.
10. Remember toSlip, Slop, Slap, Wrap!
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