Helping NC Communities Improve Health Of Minorities

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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A new public health data system for local health departments and community partners was announced by the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Its nickname, NC-CATCH, stands for "North Carolina Comprehensive Assessment for Tracking Community Health."

"The health status of our communities varies widely across our state and even within counties," said State Health Director Leah Devlin. "There are many reasons for that – every community has its own unique set of capabilities and challenges – but we must have effective monitoring systems that can help us see and measure what is happening. Then we can begin to correct underlying problems as well as to capitalize on each community's strengths and achievements. NC-CATCH is just such a system."

The new system will greatly improve local health departments' ability to quickly retrieve and portray health data they need for community health assessments, which are used on the local and state levels to determine community needs and to help in making crucial public health program and policy decisions.

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The NC-CATCH data will be available on the State Center for Health Statistics website so health agencies, the public, community groups and others can access and use the information.

Health Profiles for all 100 North Carolina counties have been constructed as part of the first phase of the NC-CATCH data reporting system.

Customized report and analysis capability will be available in several months for selected public health professionals. That portion of NC-CATCH will provide detailed "drill-down" access to data on births, deaths, pregnancies, hospital discharges, emergency room visits, and cancer cases along with user-specified reports. A major step forward with NC-CATCH is that it allows the user to break down county data for smaller geographic areas, such as census tracts, zip codes and other user-defined communities.

NC-CATCH is a collaborative effort between the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the North Carolina Division of Public Health and local public health agencies. It was developed by UNC Charlotte faculty under a contract funded by the N.C. Division of Public Health and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

NC-CATCH was announced at the 16th Annual Healthy Carolinians Conference in Greensboro. Healthy Carolinians is a statewide network of community-based partnerships working to improve the health of North Carolinians. The partnerships include representatives from public health, hospitals, health and human service providers, churches, schools, businesses, and local officials and policymakers. The Governor's Task Force for Healthy Carolinians certifies each partnership based on nine standards for community health improvement.

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