Tri-County Health Department and Littleton Adventist Hospital recently undertook separate studies of the health of south-metro residents and agree on the top three most troubling issues: Access to care, obesity and mental health.
“Data is information, but not necessarily knowledge,” said David Peters, retired community-outreach director for Centura Health/St. Anthony Hospital.
Peters served as the researcher for the 2013 Littleton Community Retreat, held Oct. 18-19 at Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby. The theme was “Building a Healthy Community for All.”
“There is reason to believe that just by coming together, we’ve already started that process,” organizer Amy Conklin told the 45 attendees from throughout Littleton, including city staff, elected and appointed officials, representatives of various health agencies and the interested public.
Peters said Littleton seems relatively healthy, though a lack of city-specific information caused him to rely mostly on county-level data. Littleton City Councilor Jim Taylor noted the city will be conducting its own survey in the near future.
The biggest killer in Littleton by far is cancer, most commonly lung cancer. Next comes heart disease, accidents and Alzheimer’s disease.
At the county level, cardiovascular trouble arising from obesity is the most troubling health issue. More than 17 percent of Arapahoe County residents report they do no regular daily physical activity, despite the large number of parks and extensive trail systems.
Peters said the county’s suicide rate is high relative to the rest of the country, with nearly 18 per 100,000 adults dying by suicide every year. Lisa Traudt of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network said men ages 35 to 65 are a growing concern in this area.
“What we know is that treatment works,” said Traudt. “It makes people’s lives livable.”
ADMHN takes clients on a walk-in basis, regardless of whether they have insurance. Tri-County’s data show that nearly 20 percent of Arapahoe County residents do not, and more than 12 percent live below the poverty line.
Conklin noted that Littleton is lucky to have so many resources, and so many people willing to come together to tackle tough issues.
“Often our health is determined by the community we live in as well as our choices,” she said.