We affirm the World Health Organization’s broad definition of health as “a state of complete, physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease.”
Milford Regional’s Office of Community Benefits responds to the Community Health Needs Assessment conducted every three years for our service area. This assessment addresses the health priorities for the Commonwealth identified by the Massachusetts Attorney General which include:
- Supporting health care reform
- Chronic disease prevention and management
- Reducing health disparities
- Addressing unmet health needs of the uninsured
Health Care Access and Utilization
The Assessment found medical services in the MRMC region are of high quality. However, a number of barriers were identified in accessing healthcare, including access to affordable health insurance, a shortage of primary care physicians, availability of public transportation, and ensuring that health services accommodate the needs of a diverse population.
While the rate of uninsured in the region is comparable to the state average of 4%, the rate in Milford is higher at 6.5%. In addition, many area residents are underinsured or cannot afford the associated costs such as deductibles, co-pays, and prescriptions even with their health insurance.
“[The most pressing health concern in the community] is the dearth of providers, both primary care physicians (PCP) and mental health providers. The wait list for a PCP for new patients in this area can be six to nine months.”
While the region had a slightly lower percent of residents reporting poor mental health than the state, the Assessment identified mental health as a priority health issue for the region. Anxiety, depression, and self-harming behaviors continue to be of concern, particularly for youth. In addition to impacting health and quality of life, mental health issues contributed to substance abuse and interpersonal violence. Opioid-related deaths across the state have increased from 668 in 2012 to 1,089 in 2014. Milford has seen the greatest number of opioid fatalities in the region.
Scarcity of mental health services and lack of integration of primary care and behavioral health services were identified as barriers. For substance abuse in particular, the lack of treatment and recovery resources were key concerns.
“Opioid abuse and deaths are tragic… the fact that we have so many users. It affects all walks of life. It hits in unexpected places. It’s leading to people doing things they don’t normally do.”
The Office of Community Benefits co-chairs CHNA 6 (Community Health Network Area), established by Department of Public Health in 1992, includes the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Franklin, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Uxbridge.