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New directions for community health

Recognizing the majority of health outcomes are determined by behaviors and environmental influences outside the doctor’s office, the commission is calling for a communitywide focus on preventing chronic diseases like obesity and tobacco addiction and increased efforts to connect clinical, behavioral health and community-based services.

“The epidemics of the last century were conquered in large part though the miracles of modern medicine,” said Stephen Ashley, chair of the Regional Commission on Community Health Improvement, which announced its recommendations July 14. “But today’s health challenges are in many ways more complex. We can’t immunize our children against obesity or write a prescription for homelessness.”

Convened by the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, the commission and its workgroups drew on the expertise of 150 regional leaders from public health, human services, health care, community-based organizations and other health-related fields. Over the past 18 months, the groups reviewed dozens of studies and extensive health data from the nine-county region, identifying prevention, senior care, and mental illness and addiction as the most pressing health challenges and endorsing a series of collaborative, evidence-based solutions.

The 25-page Blueprint for Community Health Improvement and an executive summary are available online at www.flhsa.org/regional-commission-on-community-health-improvement-blueprint.

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