Pasadena Copes with Rapidly Aging Population

Recent City/Huntington Hospital Needs Assessment also identified youth, infant health issues

Published : Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5:17 AM

The Pasadena Public Health Department takes pause today to celebrate 125 years of health services to the community. This comes at a time when, like so much of the nation, Pasadena is learning to cope with a rapidly aging population having a ripple effect across the City’s economic and social landscape.

The city’s latest health needs assessment reveals that along with age-related diseases and conditions, the city also faces pressing health issues associated with young adults and adolescence, such as tobacco use, drug and alcohol use, mental health issues, and bullying.

According to Mr. Michael Johnson, Director of the Pasadena Public Health Department, the most recent triennial Community Health Needs Assessment identified four goals in terms of local health needs, and six highly rated areas of need.

The survey is completed every three years and helps guide the City’s health department create its health implementation plan, which it has most recently developed for 2018.

“The first goal is really looking at improving the health and quality of life of older adults,” said Dr. Johnson. “We have a growing, aging population in Pasadena, (with) more older people in Pasadena than we might find in another jurisdiction, and so there are things that we should be doing to help these folks out.”

Johnson continued, “We’re also looking at young adults and the important issues associated with young adults and adolescents in terms of tobacco use, drug and alcohol use, mental health issues, bullying, those sort of things that you might find in that population group.

“The third goal that we have is focused on developing a healthy environment to promote healthy physical activity, diet, and healthy body weight.”

The fourth goal, according to Johnson, is focusing on improving the health and well being of women, infants, and children.

As Johnson explained, “We want to make sure that women have healthy pregnancies, and healthy deliveries, and that we have kids that are born into an environment that are ready to learn and have the support that they need in order to do well in life.

The six highest rated areas of need, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment, were access to Care, Heart disease and stroke, Child and Adolescent Health, Mental Health Older adults and aging, exercise, nutrition, and Weight.

Huntington Hospital has conducted its Community Health Needs Assessment, and developed an implementation strategy every three years, in accordance with California Senate Bill 697, which was implemented in 1994.

“The CHNA (Community Health Needs Assessment) serves as a tool for effectively planning the allocation of community benefits to improve the health of the community,” said the assessment.

At the same time, the Pasadena Public Health Department has been responsible for protecting, maintaining and improving the health of the Pasadena community since 1892. The City of Pasadena is one of only three cities in the state of California that maintains its own independent local health jurisdiction.

Each Community Health Needs Assessment concentrates on the geographic area of Greater Pasadena, which includes Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, and San Marino.

Following the completion of the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment with Huntington Hospital, the Department then commenced its work on the 2018 Greater Pasadena Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), a community-wide statement of priorities and goals for improving community health.

According to the assessment, “Huntington Hospital’s Community Benefits Committee, executive management team, and Board of directors will use the Community Health Improvement Plan to develop meaningful community health improvement efforts.”

Areas of focus for the Community Health Improvement Plan, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment, include improving the health, function, and quality of life of older adults; improving the healthy development, health, safety, and well-being of adolescents and young adults; reducing chronic disease risk by creating environments and policies that support and increase healthful nutrition and physical activity; and increasing health equity and improve the well-being of women, infants, children, and families.

Returning to the issue of an older population, Johnson added, “We have an increasing number of seniors that might be experiencing social isolation, and this is not a scientifically based response, but I feel like Pasadena has a lot of activities to help them.”

Continued Johnson, “There’s a lot of things that we try to do for our senior population that other jurisdictions might be challenged to provide, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have increasing numbers of seniors that are experiencing this isolation, and we have increasing numbers of seniors who are living with disabilities, and of course, because of the issues associated with an aging population, we’re also seeing more seniors that are experiencing dementia-related illness.”

Johnson also noted the rising importance of young adult mental health issues.

“There’s increasing information and attention to the importance of addressing health issues in young adults, the concerns associated with substance abuse, tobacco or alcohol use.

“We have to recognize,” Johnson continued, “that there are mental health issues that are identified in young persons that the sooner we can identify, the better their outcomes will be in life. So making sure that we have accessible services for youth populations, along with the recognition that things like trauma can have negative impacts on the developing brain and developing youth.

“We can’t diminish the impact of trauma or what might happen with regards to experiencing traumatic events, having family members incarcerated or outside of the home in terms of challenges,” Johnson added.

Johnson also noted that the City’s health department should continue to “promote issues of healthy eating, active living and make sure that we have access to all those great services, physical activity, provide access to healthy produce.

Added Johnson, “Some of our numbers show that some youth continue to not have the best dietary habits and that we can improve on our dietary habits in terms of eating, and our obesity rate is just still a little bit high; a little bit higher than the statewide average that you might find.”

“It’s something that we need to continue to work on,” said Johnson.

The full Community Health Needs Assessment is available at www.healthypasadena.org.

The Health Department’s Celebration is today, Friday, April 06, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. It’s free of charge and will be held at the Pasadena Public Health Department building at 1845 N. Fair Oaks Ave. For more information call (626) 744-6011 or click here: tinyurl.com/yay9uqzp

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