Sunday, August 9, 2020
Wood River Valley Skirts Diabetes But Obesity is Creeping Up
Sunday, January 26, 2020


Obesity and mental health have been identified as the high priority health needs for each of St. Luke’s eight hospitals.

And diabetes has been identified as the second highest priority health need in all but St. Luke’s mountain communities—St. Luke’s Wood River and St. Luke’s McCall.

The new 2019 Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) released this week by St. Luke’s Health System identifies obesity, mental health, substance abuse, affordable dental care and affordable health insurance as the high priorities in St. Luke’s Wood River.

St. Luke’s conducts comprehensive research every three years to understand the most serious health issues and trends in the communities where its hospitals are located.

Addressing obesity and improving behavioral health services rose to the top of CHNA’s most significant health needs in every community. More than 60 percent of adults and 25 percent of children in Idaho are overweight or obese, a trend that’s risen steadily for 10 years.

Idaho also has one of the highest percentages of mental illness in the nation—21.6 percent. And the Gem State’s suicide rates are consistently higher than the national average.

Idaho is also near the top of the list when it comes to a shortage of mental health professionals. One in four people with mental illness are unable to get the treatment they need.

The study was developed with imput from community representatives and organizations, as well as quantitative data from national, state and local sources. They include a prioritized list of more than 60 health needs related to individual health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and the physical environment.

Not-for-profit health systems are required to conduct such assessments by the IRS.

“We ask: What is holding us back? What prevents people from living the life they want?” said Lyle Nelson, St. Luke’s community health administrator. “Then we identify strategies and initiatives, often working in partnership with others, to address those needs.”

Success, added Nelson, means nothing less than improving the mental and physical health of people living in St. Luke’s communities.

Erin Pfaeffle, director of community engagement for St. Luke’s Wood River said the 5B Suicide Prevention Alliance, a group of 15 organizations in the valley including St. Luke’s, is working to build a culture of awareness, understanding acceptance and action around the community’s well being.

The group offers presentations to businesses and other organizations titled “Know the 5 Signs” in order to educate people about how to deal with someone who might be having thoughts of suicide. It also has supported film screenings regarding adverse childhood experiences (ACES) that affect children and other topics related to mental health.

St. Luke’s Wood River is teaming with the Wood River Community YMCA, Blaine County School District and the Blaine County Recreation Department to encourage health habits involving good nutrition and adequate physical activity among children ages 6 through 16 years who are at an unhealthy weight.

High priority health needs for each St. Luke’s community, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment:

  • St. Luke’s Boise/Meridian (Ada and Canyon counties): Obesity, diabetes, mental health, substance abuse and affordable health insurance.
  • St. Luke’s Elmore (Elmore County): Obesity, diabetes, mental health and tobacco use
  • St. Luke’s Nampa (Canyon County): Obesity, diabetes, mental health, substance abuse and affordable health insurance.
  • St. Luke’s Jerome and St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center (Jerome and Twin Falls counties): Obesity, diabetes, mental health and affordable health insurance.
  • St. Luke’s McCall (Adams and Valley counties): Obesity, mental health, substance abuse, affordable dental care, affordable health insurance and affordable health care.
  • St. Luke’s Wood River (Blaine County): Obesity, mental health, substance abuse, affordable dental care and affordable health insurance.

Want to know more? See Eye on Sun Valley’s Jan. 16, 2020, story; “Hospital Entertains a Shift in Promoting Wood River Valley Health.”

You can access the story in the “Read More” bar below today’s top stories. Or, find “Stories—Our Articles” in the menu bar at top, drop down to “Search our Archives” and type in “Erin Pfaeffle.”



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