health status of the state

UND Releases Seventh Biennial Report on Health Issues for the State of North Dakota

The Seventh Biennial Report on Healthcare Issues for the State of North Dakota updates legislators on the state’s current health care system, and offers next steps for North Dakota to ensure that all residents have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. access to quality health care. Web screenshot of the cover of the report.

As the North Dakota Legislature continues its 68th session, the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences and its partners have released the Seventh Biennial Report on Health Issues for North Dakota Report.

This report, required by schools per the North Dakota Century Code, updates legislators on the current state of health in North Dakota and their healthcare delivery system as well as an analysis of steps the state can take to ensure that all North Dakotans can reach. High quality healthcare at an affordable cost now and in the future.

“Our first biennial report was prepared during the 2009-11 biennial and released just before the start of the 62nd Legislative Assembly,” recalled Dr. Joshua Wynne, Dean of SMHS and Vice President for Health Affairs at UND. “A total of six reports have been issued every two years since then, with an update due in 2023.”

healthcare workforce

This latest report, coming after the worst global pandemic in a century, comes at an important time for health and health care in North Dakota, according to Wynne.

“Needless to say that COVID has tested our state’s health and healthcare system over the last two years,” he continued. “Not only how did it affect our population and its access to care, but also our healthcare workers.”

Wynne said that for a state already grappling with not only a shortage of healthcare providers but also the misallocation of those providers, Covid has hit its many rural hospitals and clinics especially hard. As the report noted, the pandemic exacerbated “burnout” in the health professions, resulting in early retirements and resignations among some providers—thus a major shortfall overall—as well as those physicians, nurses and therapists. The workload increased for those still in service. their profession.

The need for health workers is especially critical in the rural and western parts of North Dakota, where there has been a chronic shortage, especially of primary care providers, for several decades, the report’s executive summary states: “Without direct intervention, adequate The difficulty of providing healthcare services will be worsened by the aging of the population (including the aging and eventual retirement of healthcare workers) in North Dakota in the coming decades, which will increase the demand for healthcare services in those areas.

Still, the healthcare workforce news is generally good for North Dakota, said the report’s lead author Mandi-Leigh Peterson, senior research analyst at UND’s Center for Rural Health.

“North Dakota’s effort to train itself is working,” Peterson said. “In previous reports, North Dakota had fewer physicians per capita than our Midwest and US peers. While this is still true, we have narrowed the gap in provider-to-population ratio. Another area where we The direction we are going in is that we have seen an increase in the number of health professionals in the state. There has also been an increase in the number of in-state graduates practicing in the state.”

population health

Such positive trends advance the overall health of North Dakotans, Peterson continued. This latest report shows that, despite COVID, the health of North Dakotans appears to be improving.

“Prior to the pandemic, North Dakota was showing different trends in health behavior with improvements in areas over time that suggested positive behavioral change,” Peterson said. “And according to national data, North Dakotans are now more likely than Americans to report good general health”

For example, the percentage of survey respondents who report smoking, binge drinking and drinking and driving are all down relative to 2019, according to the report. And the percentage of North Dakotans who regularly wear seatbelts has increased over the years.

Accordingly, the percentage of North Dakotans reporting only “fair” or “poor” health is down about two percentage points since 2019.

health education

One notable fact from the report, added Peterson, was the surprising response of the university system to the pandemic. SMHS, UND’s College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines, and NDSU College of Pharmacy all made tremendous programmatic and curricular changes to continue providing the highest quality educational opportunities for students, despite classroom cancellations and challenges to the overall system Huh. Uncertainty.

“The programs were able to provide students with the opportunity to complete their coursework and graduate in time to join the workforce at a critical time,” he said, highlighting its efforts to specifically UND’s Master of Public Health program. Where did you go? From April 2020 through June 2022, MPH faculty, students and staff used funds provided by the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services to send more than 180 case investigators to work 80,113 hours in an effort to combat the spread of COVID. used.

“The MPH program’s contribution to contact-tracing efforts in the state was a very important asset that served the entire state,” Peterson said. “An additional notable piece was the regionally collaborative response by public health, health systems and organizations to coordinate large-scale vaccination efforts to ensure that vaccines were available to the public in a highly organized and efficient manner.”

Finally, both Wynn and Peterson suggest, the health picture, while not perfect, is improving in North Dakota.

“A few years ago, Gov. Doug Burgum asked me to lead a working group charged with developing a strategic plan for health for the state of North Dakota with the goal of making North Dakotans the healthiest people in the country,” Wine concluded. “We have turned that plan over to the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Nizar Wehbi, the state health officer. And as these new data from this report suggest, although we have a long way to go to achieve this bold goal, North Dakota is headed in the right direction.

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