For the first time since 2007, Fort Bend County’s Health and Human Services department and 35 other community stakeholders collaborated to determine the county’s most critical health needs.

The gist: On April 21, the county released the 2022 Community Health Assessment—which indicated these five public health priorities for residents of Fort Bend County:
  • Improve mental health by increasing access to services and providing education;
  • Ensure safe and affordable housing units are available for ownership and rent for the present and future residents of Fort Bend County;
  • Improve health by decreasing obesity;
  • Improve cardiovascular health by increasing awareness and access; and
  • Prevent pregnancy complications and maternal deaths and improve women’s health before, during and after pregnancy.
How we got here: During summer 2022, the health and human services department conducted a community survey to inform the CHA priorities. Then, from September to December, the department engaged community members to develop an action plan for each priority area.

800 community survey responses and 25 key informant interviews were used to develop the county’s public health priorities and improvement plan.

Furthermore, over 150 Fort Bend County leaders, residents, stakeholders and health champions represented 70 organizations in community input sessions that determined objectives and strategies for the Community Health Improvement Plan.

By the numbers: Each priority was developed based on community health figures compiled by public health organizations throughout the county, such as Katy Cares, Fort Bend County Behavioral Health Services, The Arc of Fort Bend and Sugar Land Methodist Church. Some of those findings concluded:
  • There are 1,210 residents per mental health provider in Fort Bend County.
  • Fort Bend County residents report an average 3.6 mentally unhealthy days per month.
  • An individual in Fort Bend County would need to work 3.2 full-time jobs at minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom housing unit at fair market rent.
  • 26.5% of Fort Bend County residents spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
  • 30% of adults in the county are considered obese.
  • 111.7 per 100,000 deaths are due to heart disease in Fort Bend County.
  • 60.7% of pregnant Fort Bend County women receive early prenatal care.
The impact: Ten total objectives to improve community health were developed from this data and are outlined in the CHIP.

The CHIP is intended to provide a long-term, systematic effort to address public health problems based on results from the assessment, according to county documents and the Public Health Accreditation Board. According to the report, these themes emerged after engaging individuals across the county:
  • Address inequitable access to services, care and programs;
  • Leverage partnerships and collaboration;
  • Promote awareness and education; and
  • Increase access to services, care and programs.
Many of the objectives aim to improve specified community health issues by 2026.

Quote of note: Jacquelyn Johnson-Minter, Fort Bend County's director of health and human services, said in the 2022 CHA introduction that the COVID-19 pandemic brought physical health, mental health and economic struggles of Fort Bend County’s rapidly evolving community to the forefront.

“The pandemic highlighted many areas where critical resources were lacking, and partnerships had to be resurrected or formed in order to succeed in keeping our community as healthy as possible during the most challenging health crisis of our lifetime,” Johnson-Minter said in the report’s introduction.

The full 2022 CHA and accompanying CHIP reports can be found on the county's health and human services department webpage.