St. Luke's study identifies health concerns in the Treasure Valley

Posted at 4:00 PM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-19 21:03:14-05

BOISE, Idaho — The federal government requires non-profit hospitals like St. Luke's to put together a study every three years to identify the most pressing health needs in the community.

The study found that mental health and obesity were the two biggest health concerns, the study also identified diabetes, suicide, substance abuse, tobacco use and health care costs as problems in the Treasure Valley.

However, St. Luke's Community Health Manager Jean Mutchie tells us that vaping is becoming a big concern. She says "The exciting thing is we are ahead of this. We have a lot of work with our own internal team and community partners already addressing the crisis that we are seeing an epidemic in our kids around vaping, and we have also seen some national policy shifts.”

"The study s fascinating, it is probably less surprising than it is alarming," said Lyle Nelson the administrator for the St. Luke's Community Health System. "We don’t want to manage and treat disease for those that are preventable, we want to prevent them and that is how we save health care costs and the burden of health care cost.”

Nelson also pointed to mental health and more specifically targeting the mental health of children with the idea of preventing bigger problems down the road.

St. Luke's has initiated a number of different innovative ways to attempt to improve the health of our communities because they believe where we live, work and play has a big impact on healthcare.

"I think it is thrilling that we are thinking differently and looking at health through a different lens," said Jean Mutchie the manager for the St. Luke's Community Health System.

Mutchie identified some of the programs they have implemented: St. Luke's is putting pediatricians in schools, Central Elementary just received a new doctor who can treat kids.

St. Luke's is also putting in tracks at schools including Central Elementary to give families a safe place to exercise and they have programs to help children get access to healthy foods.

"obesity is really complex and it’s not just telling people eat better," said Mutchie. "If you don’t have access to healthy food it is really hard to shift anything around if people are getting there food at a convenient store.”

In addition to all the dollars St. Luke's is funneling into the community for health care, they also have community improvement grants that has dished out more than one miillion dollars to 125 different small organizations and non-profits in the Treasure Valley.