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
Community Health Assessment
Priority Areas: Click on any of the links below to learn more about each of our priority areas.
Health Care Access and Utilization Chronic Disease Behavioral Health Violence Prevention
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.”
The Assessment found that chronic disease is a growing concern for survey respondents and their families. Approximately one in five adults in the region is obese and the percent diagnosed with diabetes rose from 5.4% in 2008 to 9.3% in 2013, according to state data. This rate of increase is higher than the state average. One in five first graders and one in four tenth graders in the region are considered overweight or obese.
The associated health care and social costs of diabetes and obesity continues to grow. The impact is disproportionately higher for low income, and minority populations due to financial constraints and cultural barriers that limit access to healthy foods, physical activity, and preventive health care.
“If there is one thing that needs to be prioritized in the next year it would be to continue to build a path of connectedness within our communities.”
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.”
Bullying and interpersonal violence were identified as two types of violence occurring in our communities. Bullying among youth was seen as taking place both in and out of school. Overall, the percentage of middle school youth reporting bullying decreased in the Metrowest region from 37.7% in 2010 to 28.8% in 2014. LBTQ youth are 1-2 times more likely to be bullied or victims of interpersonal violence. Cyberbullying has become more pervasive and detrimental among youth as social media has become a ubiquitous part of young people’s lives. Cyberbullying has remained the same from 2010-2014 with approximately 1 in 5 middle and high school students reporting being victims of cyberbullying.
Assessment participants identified domestic violence as a concern in the region. Intimate partner violence and family violence were specifically were mentioned as problems that occur, but are often not openly discussed and thus underreported.
“Interpersonal violence is an everyday violence. It’s the whole umbrella of violence of people who know and love one another. These are the things that occur behind closed doors.”
CHNA 6: Greater Milford Community Health Network
Mission: To facilitate effective collaboration and capacity building using local assets and resources in the region to promote prevention, healthy equity, and health communities.
Vision: To build healthier communities by including a wide range of accessible, multigenerational, and culturally appropriate services and programs that assist and educate community members in the importance of prevention and leading healthier lives.
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.
CHNA 6 meets every other month at the Milford Senior Center, 60 N. Bow Street Milford from 9-11am. Membership consists of representatives from community and volunteer organizations, schools and childcare, medical institutions and offices, social service agencies, local government and businesses. To participate and confirm schedule please email email@example.com
CHNA 6 has completed a Community Health Improvement Plan to allocate the DoN (Determination of Need) funding that will be available as a result of the Milford Regional Medical Center expansion. Much of the health planning occurs with partnering agencies, organizations and coalitions, to address the complex needs of the residents of our communities.
CHNA 6 has identified 4 priority areas:
||Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion:
Leading agencies: Hockomock Area YMCA, South Central WIC Nutrition Program, Reliant Medical Group
||Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse:
Promote positive emotional health across the lifespan and build an accepting community for those affected by mental health and substance abuse.
Engage communities to promote non-violent behavior across the lifespan.
Increase knowledge and use of services and resources that promote health and wellness.