By Karen Stokes
Since 2012, the health system members of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership (MHCP), Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin, and Froedtert Health, have committed to share funding and design of a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every three years.
“To ensure a wide variety of voices and perspectives, diverse participants were included in this process,” said Bridget Clementi, VP, Community Health, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Milwaukee County has an estimated population size of 942,546 in 2021. Milwaukee County ’s 2021 population is 57.3% White (non-Hispanic), 16.3% Hispanic or Latino, 26.7% Black/African American (non- Hispanic), and 4.9% Asian (non-Hispanic). This is in contrast to Wisconsin, which is 80.1% White (non- Hispanic) and 6.4% Black/African American (non-Hispanic)
The 2021 Milwaukee County Community Health Needs Assessment is informed by three key sources:
– Community Health Survey (primary data) – An on-line survey conducted August – October 2021, with more than 8,600 Milwaukee County residents.
-Key Informant Interviews and Focus Groups (primary data) – Conducted by health system community benefit leaders with 103 individuals representing 48 key informants and 55 participants in 4 focus groups to identify community health needs, root causes and contributing social factors.
-Health Compass Milwaukee (secondary data) – A compilation of numerous publicly reported health data and other sources on one website.
“Health is really a factor in a number of determinants,” Clementi said. “You can’t talk about health without talking about the role that racism and discrimination plays.”
Through the assessment the top 5 health issues identified by priority from the overall Milwaukee County are Mental health, violence, drug use, alcohol, access.
The order of the issues differ somewhat in the African American community showing violence is the number one health issue, with Mental health being second, followed by drug use, chronic disease (diabetes, high blood pressure) and infectious disease.
There have been 86 homicides so far this year in Milwaukee. This is 26 more than last year at this date. With violence growing in urban areas it is reasonable that it would be the top health issue to African Americans.
Milwaukee’s Blueprint for Peace makes a clear connection between violence and health. Violence, both interpersonal and structural. The injury, pain, and trauma that results from violence can severely impact the physical and mental well-being and sense of worth and safety of individuals and communities.
For example, exposure to violence and lack of safety increases stress and anxiety, which are linked to higher rates of preterm births and low birthweight babies. Violence can also deter people from engaging in healthy behaviors such as exercise or outdoor play.
Additionally, violence can result in premature death, high medical costs, and decreased productivity. Not only does violence affect health outcomes, it can deprive individuals and communities of opportunities and perpetuate historic and present day inequities.
Further borrowing from the Blueprint, interpersonal violence takes many forms, including firearm violence, homicides, domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, rape, human trafficking, aggravated assault, and child maltreatment and exploitation.
A key informant said, “Living in a crisis situation. Because it’s so concentrated in neighborhoods, people see others with the same issues — they feel that it’s normal. They take cues of what others in their community are doing.”
Justin Rivas, Director of Community Health Initiatives, said, “There’s a strong correlation between poverty and health.”
Concentrated poverty is linked to concentrated violence in multiple forms, gun violence, assaults, domestic violence and child abuse.
“With the report each health system uses this data to develop their own community health improvement and implementation strategies to serve their local communities,” Rivas said.
Full report and data are available at healthcompassmilwaukee.com.