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Community Health Assessment Released

The newly completed 2023 Roosevelt County Community Health Assessment has recently been released.

“It is the hope of Roosevelt County Health Department that this compilation of information will assist you in the work you do for the people of Roosevelt County. Use it widely for problem and asset identification, to apply for and secure funding to address health issues, to strengthen partnerships between Roosevelt County health partners, and more,” Patty Presser of the Roosevelt County Health Department wrote in an email. “This Community Health Assessment is not an end. At the health department, it will be followed by a long-term systematic effort of improvement planning to address our communities’ health needs and identified issues.”

The information consists of input from 53 community stakeholders from an electronic survey developed by the Roosevelt County Health Department and Fort Peck Tribal Health Department.

Top health issues in the area according to the respondents include alcohol use, illegal drug use, crime, sexually transmitted infections, suicide and access to mental health services.

Regarding the topic of how to make the area a better place to raise children, stakeholders identified enforcement of truancy laws, parenting classes and improving the qualify of schools as the top issues.

Stakeholders listed housing options for seniors as the top item to make the community a better place to grow old. Other top suggestions included more social options, transportation assistance and expanded medical services.

A total of 98 percent of the respondents feel there is access to spiritual and religious support in the community. A total of 86 percent feel there is access to cultural support in the community and 70 percent indicate that the medical services in the community are easy to access. A total of 57 percent of respondents feel that schools are high quality and supportive.

Only 10 percent of respondents feel there is enough affordable housing in the community and 42 percent feel they are safe in the community.

According to information compiled by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and Loveland Consulting, residents of Roosevelt County are twice as likely to report current smoking than others in the state. Youth in the county are more than three times more likely to report cigarette use than youth in the United States. The report notes that there are a little under 200 births per year in the county. Only one in three pregnant women receive adequate prenatal care, which is less than half the rate seen in Montana. The county’s injury death rate is 82 percent than Montana as a whole.

The report’s conclusion reads, “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks Roosevelt Count as the least healthy county in Montana. We believe the data presented in this report document health concerns that rank our community as one of the highest risk communities in the United States.”

The conclusion continues, “Based on these data, there is a critical need to invest in comprehensive and evidence-based economic, public health and medical interventions to address the pressing health risks and significant disparities in morbidity and mortality faced by our population. The health of our community must be prioritized by every person in our community as we strive to create a healthy future for our children. Generational investments to bolster the cultural and spiritual resources in our community while empowering residents to access the needed supports to meet their basic needs and foster a healthy environment are critical to save lives and improve the quality of life in our community. Community- driven efforts to improve public safety and create a sense of individual and communal well-being in Roosevelt County are also needed. To address these complex realities, Roosevelt County and the Fort Peck Tribes should be prioritized for state and federal funding and capacity building to address health concerns and disparities, as well as to facilitate access to social safety net programs.

Key health concerns listed were: Basic needs, substance use, early childhood and family stability, and communicable diseases.

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