Heart disease and cancer continue to be the leading causes of death in Dallas County, according to the latest health data, with chronic diseases, behavioral health, and preventative care remaining critical concerns for Dallas County residents.
To shed light on the community’s overall health status, Parkland Health and Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) jointly presented the 2022 Dallas County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which characterizes Parkland and DCHHS as non-profit and governmental hospitals mandated to conduct the analysis every three years due to Affordable Care Act regulations, according to Dallas Metro News.
In an interview with Dr. Fred Cerise, Parkland Health President, and CEO, he emphasized the complexity of the analysis process, which involved assessing the health status of the entire community, identifying areas with increased needs due to deprivation, and designing programs to promote overall well-being. The report’s development also included surveys and focus groups held by Parkland and DCHHS, which received responses from 437 members of the public and 278 individuals who attended 40 focus group sessions, with most respondents from the eastern and southern parts of the county.
The report’s findings highlighted significant disparities in health quality among zip code areas, with further analysis based on gender, race, and sexual orientation reiterating the observations. Dr. Philip Huang, DCHHS Director, pointed out that socio-economic factors contribute largely to the prevalent disparities. Although chronic diseases, heart diseases, and cancer remain significant health issues, they account for only 20% of the morbidity observed, with external factors such as access to healthy foods, activities, lighted areas, and clinics contributing to the rise of chronic diseases.
Dr. Rahul Bhongir, a family medicine specialist, expressed frustration as he attends to patients daily who suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure, often due to obesity, a lack of fresh foods, inability to access care, and increased stress. He explained that preventable diseases cause many of the conditions he comes across. Upholding his view, Commissioner John Wiley Price revealed that although health programs get often funded, access remains a prevailing issue, specifically highlighting transportation deprivation and food deserts.
Surprisingly, mental health ranked second in terms of health care concerns, indicating the need for policies and interventions to address this critical issue. The report’s overarching theme was that the inhabitants of certain zip codes had more health problems, indicating significant disparities in health outcomes between different Dallas County groups. In conclusion, the CHNA serves as a crucial tool that Dallas County hopes to leverage to improve the health status of all its residents, regardless of their geographical location or socio-economic status. By utilizing the CHNA report, policymakers can develop sustainable policies to address local health issues and stimulate community well-being.