Gaston County, NC -- The Gaston County Community Health Assessment (CHA) findings have been released and highlight the community's top health concerns. The CHA is a collaborative effort between the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and CaroMont Regional Medical Center and provides a comprehensive review of the demographic, social, and economic factors influencing the health of Gaston County residents. The report presents the notable health outcomes in Gaston County, including a survey of over 1,400 individuals who provide their individual experiences and opinions.
After the full report was compiled, DHHS presented the data to leadership teams from numerous governmental, nonprofit and neighborhood organizations in the county. These 75 community leaders reviewed the data and voted on the priority areas to be addressed in the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The priority areas selected are:
- Maternal & Infant Health
- Substance Use & Misuse
- Access to Healthcare
Maternal & Infant Health: Infant mortality remained level between 2016 and 2019 and increased by 83% between 2019 and 2020. This was seen most notably in the African American Community, where the increase between 2019 and 2020 was 115%. Access to prenatal care in the first trimester is often cited as a primary factor in healthy pregnancies and births.
Substance Use & Misuse: Opioid deaths have historically been associated with prescription pain medication, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Deaths due to illegal substances, such as heroin and fentanyl, have increased in North Carolina and are the primary cause of opioid-related deaths in Gaston County. In 2021, the percentage of overdose deaths from illegal opioids was 71.7%.
Access to Healthcare: While Gaston County has many successful and thriving municipalities and neighborhoods, there are also areas with high rates of poverty, limited transportation, individuals without health insurance, and those with language or other barriers that limit their ability to access the healthcare system. Some neighborhoods have as many as 25% of the population without health insurance, and up to 16% without a vehicle.
Gaston County DHHS sincerely appreciates the efforts of everyone who was involved in the compilation of the CHA and the creation of the CHIP. They hope local organizations will be able to use this information to enhance programs that lead to a healthier Gaston County, and that local citizens will be inspired to take action to improve their own health and the health of their community.