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Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health staff want to hear from the community to help set priorities for a new community health plan.

The plan will incorporate findings from the 2023 Community Health Assessment. , living wages and poverty; and the criminal justice system, law enforcement and incarceration. A third main category is access to health services — insurance, avoidable hospitalizations and preventive care.

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These three issues were prioritized based on four criteria: evidence of their significant scope, scale and severity; evidence of disparity or inequity; proof of community priority; and because they are structural or systemic issues that may also be root causes of multiple issues, depending on the assessment.

Other key issues that meet three of these criteria are safe and affordable housing, overburdened tenants, and homelessness; behavioral health—mental health/addiction/death from despair; and food security.

Dan Partridge, director of LDCPH, showed members of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Advisory Board last month that people living today in areas where Lawrence was historically separated still have shorter life expectancies.

Residents of Douglas County have an average life expectancy of 80.7 years, according to Partridge’s presentation. But in rural Douglas County, life expectancy is 85; in Lawrence East it is 75.4 years. That’s a difference of 9.6 years related to geography.

“You have to look at the details and look at the neighborhoods, not just the city,” he said.

And while countywide average life expectancy has increased by nearly a full year in the past three years, the geographic gap has also widened by 1.6 years since the publication of the report. 2017 health assessment.

The Department of Health’s assessment website breaks down each of the 14 identified priority areas in more detail.

“Poverty is considered a social determinant of health and a primary driver of health inequalities,” according to information provided in the Jobs, Living Wages and Poverty category. “Social factors, such as socioeconomic status, employment, education, and social support, have a significant impact on health and health outcomes, beyond health behaviors, health care and the physical environment.

Additionally, housing instability, cost of rent, overcrowding, frequent moves and homelessness can all have a negative impact on physical health, according to the website’s section on safe and affordable housing.

The assessment notes that people of color, people with disabilities, older people and renters live in inequitable conditions.

LDCPH conducts assessments for use in developing a new community health plan every five years as part of its accreditation. This is the third version of the ministry’s plan, Partridge told the advisory board. Plans are used to set priorities and inform policies to improve community health and create opportunities for good health.

View the PDF of the full 144-page review at this link. Learn more about the previous Community Health Plan, released in 2018, at this link.

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“Building on the 2023 Community Health Assessment (CHA) and seeking to develop a new Community Health Plan (CHP), you are invited to participate in an open discussion about our public health priorities in the county of Douglas,” according to the health department’s website. “There will be charts, tables, graphs and snacks!!”

There are four “Chats with Data” currently scheduled:

• 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18 at the Lawrence Public Library
• 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20 at the Eudora Community Center
• 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, April 24 at the Baldwin City Public Library
• 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2 at Holcom Park Recreation Center

LDCPH also offers an online survey. Visit this link to contribute on one or more of the topics.

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Mackenzie Clark (her), journalist/founder of the Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.

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