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October 25, 2012

Letter: AGH, Lahey deserve credit for survey work

To the Editor:

We want to thank Addison Gilbert Hospital and Lahey Health System for their leadership on the recent North Shore and Cape Ann Community Health Assessment survey.

As the recent community forums demonstrate, the needs assessment provided vital health information that the medical care and public health communities of Gloucester and Cape Ann can utilize going forward.

The data on chronic diseases, hypertension, high blood pressure etc underscore the importance of the environmental approaches of Get Fit Gloucester and the partnership with the hospital and community to address the underlying causes of these diseases. The high rates for substance abuse admission and mental health underscore the importance of the work of Healthy Gloucester Collaborative and the partnering work with the Addison Gilbert Hospital which recently enabled the creation of a Health Promotion Advocate within the Emergency Room.

As in other communities’ low-income populations, people in Gloucester suffer disproportionately poor health outcomes. Much work remains to be done nationally and locally to address the underlying causes, and come up with out of the box thinking about how to improve health status.

We give credit to Addison Gilbert and Lahey Health System for retaining the services of John Snow Institute, a well-respected national and international public health organization to examine these community data and initiate a strategic planning process to guide next steps.

In a changing universe of healthcare reform the whole effort reminds us that the health care system has two critically important parts, one is medical care and the other is public health. We look forward to continuing collaborations.

CLAUDIA SCHWEITZER

Chair, Gloucester Board of Health

NOREEN BURKE

Public Health Director

JOAN WHITNEY

Director, Healthy Gloucester

Collaborative Director

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