Healthy People and Healthy Communities
Public health studies over the years have made it clear that individual health is closely linked with community health — the health of the community and the environment in which individuals live, work, and play. Likewise, community health is profoundly affected by the collective beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of everyone who lives in the community. Improving the health of a community is therefore a shared responsibility that requires the active participation and leadership of government officials, business executives, educators, community leaders, and members of the general public.
The focus of health care providers has now broadened to include not only the provision of high-quality curative and restorative medical care, but also the active prevention of disease and the development of partnerships with community groups to educate and encourage healthy life choices. This commitment to primary and secondary prevention, in addition to tertiary intervention, acknowledges the broad range of factors that influence our individual and community health status.
Central to tracking progress toward disease prevention and health improvement is timely information about demographics, health status, and access to health services and resources. Because of its involvement in a comprehensive biennial community health assessment in Delaware County, Crozer-Keystone Health System (CKHS) obtains information about the current health status of the residents it serves as well as the behaviors that most affect health. CKHS also has comparison data from the state of Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole that serve as benchmarks for tracking improvement. As a result, CKHS monitors the health of individuals by evaluating the health of their community.
According to data on vital statistics and health risk behaviors from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and a field survey of 1,800 randomly selected households conducted by the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, the health of Delaware County residents has exhibited positive trends over the last decade. Results demonstrate that investments in health education, preventive programs, and screenings produce dividends for the individuals CKHS serves. The overall death rate, the death rate for infants, and the death rates from cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and motor vehicle accidents are significantly lower in Delaware County than in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States