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Community survey highlights public health concerns

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  Affordable housing, economic opportunity, environmental health and behavioral health are the top community health needs that have been identified in an ongoing Community Health Needs Assessment survey by the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative.

  At the Board of Health meeting on Thursday, July 28, the regional epidemiologist for the collaborative, Ann Marie Kissel, updated the board on the survey results of the study, which is conducted in Winthrop, Revere and Chelsea every three years. “The assessment aims to collect community perceptions of health and needs within the region in a very systemic way to identify key issues and develop a community health implementation plan to address identified health concerns every three years,” said Kissel.

  The public health collaborative has worked with local health departments and hospitals to help collect the data. At present, they have collected information from over 1,400 survey respondents in Revere, Winthrop and Chelsea who have answered questions about the top four health concerns, which were identified as housing, economic opportunity, environmental health and behavioral health. Over half the respondents were Revere residents, Kissel said. The full report, which will include plans to address those public health concerns, should be completed by the fall, Kissel added.

  Nearly 70 percent of the Revere respondents stated that access to more affordable housing was the most important issue they would like to see improved in the community. Asked if housing was affordable for people like them in the city, over 50 percent of the respondents answered that that was not true.

  On issues of environmental health, nearly 60 percent of respondents said the air in Revere is healthy to breathe, while nearly 30 percent said that statement was only sometimes true and about eight percent said it was not true.

  When it comes to issues of economic stability and mobility, about 23 percent of the Revere residents who answered the survey said they believe better access to good jobs is the thing they would most like to improve about the community. Multiple focus group participants emphasized the importance of receiving fair pay and having access to a safe work environment, according to Kissel. She said one participant stated that if there is access to good jobs that are well paid, their mental health, food insecurity and affordable health improve.

  On behavioral health, nearly 14 percent of respondents stated they were unable to access behavioral health care during a crisis, and nearly 13 percent stated they did not have ready access to needed substance abuse services. Additionally, Kissel noted that Revere High School students expressed concerns about the increase of vaping in the school, especially among younger students.

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