Last Thursday night city officials, organizers, RevereCARES and representatives from MGH presented the 2015 Community Health Assessment at the Turkish Cultural Center. Residents found four major priorities that Revere and Massachusetts General Hospital can address together following the release of most recent Quality of Life survey.
The four areas needing attention according to survey takers are: drug and alcohol abuse and addiction; crime and violence; obesity, poor diet and inactivity; and mental health.
As part of Obama Care, hospitals are to conduct and report needs assessments every three years. In 2012, 756 surveys were sent out in Revere. In March of 2015, 760 people were sent Quality of Life surveys, said Lesley Aldrich, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement, the public health arm for the hospital. The surveys went out in English, Spanish and Arabic.
“The assessments are important for the health of the community,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo. “It makes the difference to the city. It’s in partnership with my administration’s values. Revere is a safe, healthy place to live, work and raise a family.”
Aldrich explained this year’s assessment as a “soft” year and the data has not changed a lot from 2012 to 2015. “We’re actually looking at 2012 data. It’s unfortunate we can’t get it quicker,” Aldrich said.
“The hospital is very engaged in work to look at substance use disorder as a disease,” Aldrich said.
As Sylvia Chiang, director of RevereCARES, pointed out the survey was also about healthy eating and obtaining food, housing, domestic violence, recreation and environment.
The top issues of concern for respondents are alcohol and drug use, primarily the increase in the use of heroin. The concern for crime and violence is down a little bit to just over 35 percent. Obesity, mental health and environment stayed about the same.
“Mental health is down due to awareness and the lessening of the stigma,” Aldrich said.
Community priorities noted in the 2012 assessment were substance abuse, healthy eating, active living and healthy relationships.
Others who attended the event were Councillors Robert Haas, Ira Novoselsky; Superintendent of Schools Dianne Kelly; School Committee member Dan McGuire; Fire Chief Gene Doherty; and students from Revere High School.
“Revere is improving but it’s not inclusive of every resident. There is a lot of racism and discrimination everywhere,” commented one Quality of Life survey taker.
“The city of Revere needs to stop adding more housing. The schools are beyond full as it is,” said another survey taker.
As for the quality of life in Revere, just over 50 percent of respondents believe the community has stayed the same since the survey in 2012.
Focus groups in the future will work on e-cigarettes, e-hookahs and vaping pens. The will also be a group to address marijuana use and prescription drug misuse.
“It’s also interesting to note the characteristics of a healthy community,” Aldrich said.
Almost 62 percent of respondents to the survey said they felt Revere had low crime and safe neighborhoods; almost 47 percent believe Revere has good schools; 21 percent said Revere has good jobs, healthy economy, and a clean environment. In addition, 19 percent said there was good access to healthcare.
Finally, some focus group work with young people and adults revealed a desire to have a YMCA in Revere, more basketball courts, more playgrounds and parks, a public swimming pool, more programs for kids, affordable sports programs for kids, more policing, more education on health eating. Finally, there was an outcry to “clean the streets.”