Polk County announces priority health issues for the next three years

Published 12:42 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2022

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Polk County has been working the last year to prioritize key health issues as part of the Community Health Assessment (CHA) process. 

Every three years counties across North Carolina pause their work to improve community health by taking a step back and reviewing the current data from their county, and how the data describes the county’s health. Counties then use this information to help assess how well they are doing and what actions need to be taken moving forward. 

Polk County’s newest Community Health Assessment is now available to the public, and it highlights the process our county undertook to determine our health priorities for the next three years. The 2022-2024 health priorities are mental health, prenatal care, and substance misuse.

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“The community health assessment was a great opportunity to engage with our community partners and assess the trends of our health outcomes. The community effort helped to identify some truly concerning trends that were then presented to a larger community group that was tasked with developing strategies to turn the curve of the trends for our community focus areas. This initial work will transition over to community workgroups whose focus will be a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). However, it is important for us to emphasize that changes in health outcomes do not occur overnight and any efforts developed will need broad support and time,” says Joshua Kennedy, Polk County Health and Human Services Director.

All of this information is now available in our county’s Community Health Assessment, or CHA report, which is now available at www.polknc.org.

Our county is part of a larger community health assessment and improvement effort taking place in the region called WNC Healthy Impact. WNC Healthy Impact is a partnership and coordinated process between public health agencies, hospitals, and key regional partners in western North Carolina.  his regional effort is supported financially by all the hospitals in the region, and is housed and coordinated by WNC Health Network.

“We’re grateful to partner with several organizations in the community to support this work including St. Luke’s Hospital and Polk County Health and Wellness Coalition.” says Haley Suskauer, Polk County Health and Human Services Agency Public Health Division Manager. “We can all agree we want to improve the lives of those who work and live in Polk County  We are fortunate to have a significant amount of data to support our work towards making our community a healthy place to live, work, and learn.”


Submitted by Haley Suskauer