Local hospitals, health officials join together to build roadmap to better health

160113_Health%20Leaders_001.jpgOverall, Pima County residents practice some healthful behaviors when compared with much of the state: they have higher levels of physical activity, for example, and they tend to obtain appropriate vaccinations and recommended cancer screenings.

But a roadmap to Pima County’s overall health also shows there are some areas that could be bolstered if Pima County is to become a healthier place.

Health and policy leaders — including local hospitals, the Pima County Health Department and other public health providers and advocates — joined together Wednesday to release the findings of the 96-page Community Health Needs Assessment.

The effort identified four primary areas of focus:

  • Anxiety and depression spectrum disorders
  • Substance abuse and dependency
  • Injuries and accidents
  • Diabetes

Depression not only manifests in family stress, bullying and substance abuse, but has a higher prevalence in the Medicare population in Pima County than in the state, the report found. Substance abuse is an element in four of the top 20 leading causes of death in Pima County.

Meanwhile, injuries and accidents accounted for the third highest cause of death in 2013. And the rates of diabetes have doubled since 2003, making Type II diabetes a major threat to community health across all age groups.

The needs assessment, required every three years of nonprofit hospitals, helps prioritize areas of greatest challenge. The assessment relied on a variety of data from local, state and national sources, and gathered community input through interviews, focus groups, community forums and a web-based community health survey.

Judy Rich, president and CEO of Tucson Medical Center, said the hard work begins now.  “Doing an assessment is a lot easier than fixing the problems,” she said.160113_Health%20Leaders_004.jpg

“These are large and complex issues and solutions won’t come from any one hospital or any one organization alone,” Rich said. “But it’s exciting to know that we’ve been able to boil our needs down to these four priority areas and we are committed to getting results.”

Dr. Francisco García, director of the Pima County Health Department, said a similar planning effort in 2012 demonstrates that collaboration works.

After the last assessment pinpointed low health insurance rates, health organizations and the business community banded together to fund a media campaign and other efforts to connect consumers with enrolling in new insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. The rate of the uninsured dropped from 20 percent to about 12 percent, Dr. García said.

160113_Health%20Leaders_002“This is an example of the things we can do when we are working from a common data source and have conversations about what’s important and what matters,” he said. Dr. García said the group will convene to identify one or two areas of joint focus.

Under the Affordable Care Act, nonprofit hospitals also must implement strategies to address the needs identified in the report. TMC anticipates publishing its 2016 Implementation Plan in the fall, following meaningful input from staff, physicians, and hospital and community leaders, as well as information from the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program.

Those participating in the effort include Banner-University Medical Center, Carondelet, El Rio Community Health Center, Healthy Pima, Northwest Healthcare, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Pima County Health Department and Tucson Medical Center.

To view the report in its entirety, please visit https://www.tmcaz.com/community-health-needs-assessment. To read the Arizona Daily Star coverage of this report, visit


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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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