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Message from the President - Winter 2017

Connecting the Dots

A year ago around this time we asked you to help make our community a better, healthier place by answering a few simple questions: What are the biggest health issues in your community? What makes it hard for you to be healthy? Through focus groups, interviews, surveys, and Photovoice projects we received feedback from nearly 1,300 community members. So what did we learn?

According to the research, completed as part of the recent Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in collaboration with the Berrien County Health Department and several other community organizations, we learned that the health conditions impacting our region the most are mental health, followed by obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Nearly half of all respondents stated that depression, anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse were among the main health issues impacting either their lives or the lives of their friends and neighbors. At the same time, social determinants of health that have the greatest impact included availability of healthy food and negative health behaviors, such as smoking. Many respondents also shared that access to healthcare providers and the high cost of health care prevented them from getting the care they need.

So what do we plan to do about it?

To address the health needs our community is facing, we all need to work together. We need to leverage existing partnerships and build new ones. After all, studies show that the social environment we live and work in has a much larger impact on our health than what takes place in a clinical setting. As teachers, police offers, business owners, parents, and friends we may not see ourselves as healthcare providers — but we are.

We’re all in this together.

Over the next few months, Lakeland, along with our partners in research, will work to further analyze and understand the findings. From there, we will develop an action plan and an implementation strategy to begin making changes in the areas that need it the most. When it comes to Lakeland’s mission, and the health needs of our region, we are committed to connecting all of the dots.

If you would like to participate in the efforts to improve the health of our community, or to view the full report, visit or email

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