Survey finds provider access & weight, alcohol & drug abuse services are greatest needs in LRGHhealthcare region

  • Published in Local News

LACONIA — Apart from access to primary medical care,  a survey indicates that weight related problems, alcohol and drug abuse, care for senior citizens and mental health conditions are the most important needs of the population served by LRGHealthcare.

The "community needs assessment," prepared for LRGH by the Community Health Institute of Concord, is based on the responses of 573 people, less than one-percent of the adult population served by Lakes Region General Hospital ...

LACONIA — Apart from access to primary medical care,  a survey indicates that weight related problems, alcohol and drug abuse, care for senior citizens and mental health conditions are the most important needs of the population served by LRGHealthcare.

The "community needs assessment," prepared for LRGH by the Community Health Institute of Concord, is based on the responses of 573 people, less than one-percent of the adult population served by Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital. Together the two hospitals serve more than 100,000 people in 25 municipalities in Belknap. Merrimack, Grafton and Carroll counties. Approximately 65,000 are served by Lakes Region General Hospital and 37,000 by Franklin Regional Hospital.

The service area is marked by a greater share of people with household incomes at 200-percent of poverty or less and individuals enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare than in the state as a whole.

Of those served by LRGH, 27-percent belong to households earning 200-percent of poverty or less — 30.5-percent at Franklin and 24.7-percent at Laconia — compared to 20.6-percent for the state.

Those enrolled in Medicaid represent 13.6-percent — 14.7-percent at Franklin and 12.9-percent at Laconia — of the population, compared to 10.6-percent in the state. Those enrolled in Medicare represent 18.8-percent of the population — 19.4-percent at Laconia and 18.8-percent at Franklin — compared to 15.9-percent in the state.

The shares are significantly higher in six of the  seven municipalities where the median household income is less than $50,000 — Laconia, Franklin, Bristol, Ashland, Danbury and Tilton. Those with incomes of 200-percent of poverty or less represent 31.2-percent of the population of Laconia, 40.4-percent of Franklin, 39-percent of Bristol, 46.8-percent of Ashland, 41.1-percent of Danbury and 32.7-percent of Tilton.

Medicaid patients represent 20.5-percent of the population in Laconia, 20.3-percent in Franklin,  15.7-percent in Briston, 14.7-percent in Ashland, 14.2-percent in Danbury and 20.8-percent in Tilton. Those enrolled in Medicare account for 17.7-percent of the population of Laconia, 15.3-percent of Franklin, 21.6-percent of Bristol, 17.5-percent of Ashland, 14.3-percent of Danbury and 31.3-percent of Tilton. 

With little variation, respondents served by both hospitals ranked access to primary care, weight related health issues, alcohol and drug abuse, health care for seniors and mental health care as the five most important challenges. The same five issues, albeit in a different order, were the highest priorities of the respondents from the low income municipalities.

The assessment includes indicators of the health of the population served by LRGHealthcare in the form of the incidence of specific conditions and behaviors. Although most indicators conform closely to the standard throughout the state, some deviate significantly. For instance, the incidence of asthma of 555 cases per 100,000 people is above the 478 reported in the state. Likewise, the 229 visits and stays for diabetes per 100,000 is more than the 150 for the state.

While more than 20-percent of adults in Laconia and Franklin smoke, compared to the state average of 16.5-percent, binge drinking in both cities is less prevalent than in the state. Rates of obesity among adults of 23.4-percent in Laconia and 23.9-percent in Franklin are below the state average of 25.8-percent and the percentage of overweight adults approximates the state average of 37.2-percent.

However, rates of mental illness, violence and teen pregnancy in the service area are all above the state averages. There are 1,550 mental health visits and stays per 100,000 in the service area compared to 1,429 in the state. Injuries from assault number 346 per 100,000 people compared to a rate of 268 in the state. And the birth rate per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 is 25.1, compared to 18.6 in the state.