New report identifies the 3 most urgent health needs in Pima County



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TUCSON, Arizona – A new report has identified the key health needs of Pima County and could shape the near future of hospitals and utilities in southern Arizona in the coming years.

The community health needs assessment, which is based on data provided by county health authorities, hospitals and resident interviews, focuses on the county's three priorities:

Behavioral health

Mental health and addiction are a key area of ‚Äč‚Äčimprovement in Pima County, health officials said. According to the new report, suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the county and 13.5% of Medicare beneficiaries in Pima County are being treated for depression.

The number of deaths due to the drug is statistically higher in Pima County than in the rest of the state, the report says. Opioids are the fourth leading cause of illness and death in Pima County, with alcohol being the second leading cause.

Obesity and related diseases

Since the country's last report in 2015, heart disease has made cancer the leading cause of death. The report also estimates that a doctor diagnosed diabetes in about 13.1 percent of Pima County residents – which is higher than Maricopa's 11.4 percent and the Arizona average of 10.7 percent.

Access to services

According to the report, it will be difficult to tackle the other two priorities without a significant improvement in access to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. The report highlighted the need for behavioral health care providers, such as counselors and psychologists.

In Pima County, there is one mental health provider for 600 residents, the report says. This is what the best performing communities in the country compare with a ratio of 330 to 1. The report also identified people living in rural communities who lacked the most access to care.

solutions

The county report identifies five solutions to help address these issues: a comprehensive approach to reaching services; better cultural competence; improved access to healthy foods and food literacy; more professional development and training of school staff; and better tools for resources and reference.

Read the full report on

the Pima County Department of Health website

.

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