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The First Coast's health concerns — from substance abuse to food deserts

Michael Mayo, Baptist Health president, presents a report on the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.
Sarah Collins
Jacksonville Nonprofit Hospital Partnership
Michael Mayo, Baptist Health president, presents a report on the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.

Substance abuse, lack of affordable housing, transportation needs and even groceries all are pressing concerns that must be addressed to improve the health of Northeast Floridians, according to a new study from Jacksonville-area health care providers.

The Community Health Needs Assessment is conducted every three years by the Jacksonville Nonprofit Hospital Partnership, utilizing focus group data, select interviews and regional surveys across the five counties of the First Coast.

Some critical concerns among the nine identified in the study include cancer treatments, substance abuse, housing, maternal care and transportation.

The report asserts that about 20% of an individual's health is determined by the quality of their medical care. A bigger factor — nearly half — are societal factors like economic status, affordable and stable housing, access to transportation and supply of healthy foods.

In Duval County, priorities to address health deficiencies and disparities include improved care coordination, affordable groceries throughout the metro area, more Medicaid-based providers in the Westside and Northside, and more funding for treating substance abuse and mental illness, the report says.

Michael Mayo, president of Baptist Health, said the study is the outcome of an important and unique collaboration between nonprofits, stakeholders and government entities that started in 2011.

While he believes progress has been made in the intervening decade, Mayo says the collaboration's work helps providers and policymakers stay current on issues facing the community today.

"The challenge is the conditions within our community economically are constantly changing," Mayo said. "Therefore, it's an effort that can't be put on the shelf; it has to be enacted. We have got great data, and moving forward we can make better differences in people's lives.

The partnership includes 13 hospitals between five health systems: Ascension St. Vincent, Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic and UF Health. The fourth Community Health Needs Assessment is available at this link, where residents can view all priorities identified for Duval, St. Johns, Nassau, Clay and Baker counties.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.