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Latest Health Needs Assessment For Yellowstone County Released

A man stands at a podium in a room full of people.
Kay Erickson
Yellowstone Public Radio
John Felton, RiverStone Health President and CEO, speaks about the latest Yellowstone County Community health needs assessment results on Feb. 10, 2020.

Community leaders, health care providers and media got their first look at the overall health of Yellowstone County with the release of the latest health needs assessment on Feb. 10.  Mental health, substance abuse and obesity top the list.

The Yellowstone County Community Health Needs AssessmentReporthad its official release at a news conference Monday morning in Billings.

The CHNA is a report card or snap shot done every three years of the significant health issues and challenges for residents of Yellowstone County. The data come from a detailed survey of county residents representing the demographics of the population as well as more than 150 local leaders. The report then ranks the top community concerns based on the responses.

"The top priorities were mental health, substance abuse and once again nutrition, physical activity and a healthy weight," said Melissa Henderson with Healthy By Design, an alliance of Billings Clinic, Riverstone Health and St. Vincent Healthcare that sponsors the survey. 

They survey identified 13 areas of concern including sexual health, tobacco and vaping use and cancer.

Henderson said the new data showed improvement from the last survey, including increases in physical activity for both kids and adults and better access to affordable, healthy foods. The survey also found some improvement in access to health care. 

"I think a lot that had to do with healthcare expansion and just controlling health care costs," Henderson said. 

Henderson says the next step is to use the data to identify a couple of priorities that the members will focus on to develop programs and services to boost the health and better serve the people who live and work in Yellowstone County.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.