What in the World is a Health Status Report?

Eastern Health’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017, Together We Can, was released on June 30, 2014. This article is one in a series outlining each of the plan’s four priorities: Quality & Safety, Access, Sustainability and Population Health.

Here’s a quick quiz for you: according to Statistics Canada, what percentage of adults in the Eastern Health region reported being physically inactive during leisure time in 2013?

Answer: 56 per cent. Not good – that means over half of us likely don’t get enough exercise!

Fruit and Vegetables

Here’s another: what percentage of adults in this region reported eating fruits and vegetables five or more servings per day?

Answer: only 26 per cent. Shocking – we need our vitamins, people!

When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, I am just as guilty as the next person. But as someone working within health care, I feel compelled to keep trying to improve. And as someone working for Eastern Health, I am glad that Population Health is one of the priorities in our new Strategic Plan for 2014-17.

In particular, focusing on our region’s own Health Status Report over the next three years will help us gain better insight into the health practices and lifestyles of the people we serve throughout all our communities in the Eastern Health region.

Family biking in Placentia

Family biking in Placentia

Our Health Status Report provides much more than statistics. Released in 2012, this report provides a “snap-shot” of the health of the population living specifically within the Eastern Health region. As the report points out, to realize Eastern Health’s vision of Healthy People, Healthy Communities, it is important to have accurate, relevant information that can be used in decision-making and evaluation.

For example, did you know that:

  • The Northeast Avalon Region has the third highest proportion of census families living in poverty in the province?
  • In 2010, 65 per cent of females in the Eastern Health region who had given birth in the past five years reported initiating breastfeeding with their infant, compared with 85 per cent for Canada overall.
  • In the 2008-09, the estimated average health care cost for a patient in Newfoundland and Labrador with diabetes was $4,717.

Dr. David Allison, Eastern Health’s Medical Officer of Health, oversees the development and updating of our Health Status Report.

Mother breast feeding her infant

Mother breast feeding her infant

“This report is an attempt to summarize key information sources and present a picture of health in the region to individuals or groups who need or want to understand the health issues that affect their community,” says Dr. Allison.

“We hope that this information will be used by many individuals and groups within the region – not only those internal to our organization.”

Ensuring that people are aware of the report’s usefulness is one thing; keeping the data and information up-to-date is quite another. Kelly Butt is Eastern Health’s Manager of Pandemic and Public Health Planning – and that’s one of her responsibilities.

“We want to ensure the report has the most current information available so that it will be as useful as possible,” Kelly adds. “A particularly exciting development involves using Statistics Canada’s “peer groups” to compare Eastern Health with other regional health authorities in Canada that have similar socio-demographic characteristics, such as employment.”

Rural Community, Port de Grave

Rural Community, Port de Grave

But finding current data is not the final objective of the Health Status Report.

The information needs to be interpreted and presented in a meaningful way for health professionals, interest groups and the general public. Eastern Health’s Strategic and Operational Plans have flagged several important steps in the process, including:

  • identifying resources and partners needed to acquire data;
  • re-vamping the report to a more useable format; and
  • providing sustainable, ongoing epidemiological support to program areas in Public Health and other Eastern Health programs.

The Health Status Report. It’s about you, me and everyone else in the eastern region.  We all have a role to play in improving our health and the health of the communities we share. ■

To find out more about the Health Status Report contact Kelly Butt, Manager, Pandemic and Public Health Planning, at (709) 752-4527. To find out more about Population Health or the other priorities in our Strategic Plan, go to the Strategic Plan 2014-17 website or contact the Planning Department through Marie Duffett at (709) 777-8255, marie.duffet@easternhealth.ca, or Gillian Janes at (709) 777-6773, gillian.janes@easternhealth.ca

This story was written by Gillian Janes, a planning specialist with Eastern Health, based in St. John’s.

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