Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin Counties Among 10 U.S. Counties With Highest Community Needs, Report Says
Fresno, Kern and San Joaquin counties are among 10 U.S. counties with populations higher than 500,000 that have the worst combination of indicators known to contribute to health disparities, according to a report released this week, the Stockton Record reports.
For the report, researchers from San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West developed the community-need index, a scale that evaluates a county based on income, culture, language, education, insurance and housing -- factors that are known to contribute to health disparities, the Record reports.
Residents of counties with the highest CNI scores were twice as likely to experience preventable hospitalization for manageable conditions -- such as ear infections, pneumonia or congestive heart failure -- as communities with the lowest CNI scores. The score also indicates health care disparities among geographic regions and a specific community's acute needs.
According to the Record, a county's CNI score "provides compelling evidence for addressing socio-economic barriers when considering health policy and local health planning." Health care organizations, not-for-profit agencies and policy makers intend to use the index "to identify and address barriers to health care access," according to the Record.
Kaveh Safavi -- chief medical officer for Solucient, a health information company that helped CHW develop the index -- said, "It really is just a description of the burden in that community because of the low level of socio-economic status. Those populations typically use more than the average amount of hospital services."
San Joaquin County Health Director Ken Cohen had not yet seen the report but said, "There's no doubt that San Joaquin County and the rest of the Central Valley face significant health care challenges."
Catholic Healthcare West President and CEO Lloyd Dean said that the index would allow the provider "to target our preventive health care services where they are most likely to improve people's health" (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 3/11). The report is available online.