The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, in collaboration with hundreds of local governments and community organizations, has released the Louisiana State Health Assessment and State Health Improvement Plan. The State Health Assessment presents an analysis of the health needs and priorities facing every region of the state, detailing the strengths and weaknesses of each community as well as the opportunities and challenges facing them.

More than 2800 stakeholders and other community members representing over 500 organizations from throughout Louisiana, including organizations operating at the federal, state and local levels, participated in the creation of the assessment. These stakeholders will now be able to use the document as a framework under which they can engage their local communities in improving the issues they identified as top local priorities.

"Each community told us and each other what their own priorities are, and that's what is outlined in the health assessment," said Beth Scalco, LDH's interim assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health. "This assessment will serve as a plan to guide them, and each community will have a starting point from which it can begin the work of tackling its own, self-identified health concerns."

Five statewide priorities were identified: supporting behavioral health, promoting healthy lifestyles, assuring access to healthcare, promoting economic development and building public health infrastructure. For each priority, a series of key objectives was identified.

LDH Secretary Rebekah Gee noted that Medicaid expansion will do much to help improve access to care and the behavioral health of Louisianans.

"Throughout the discussions leading to the publication of this document, access to care and behavioral health were issues identified in every community, and put simply, expanding Medicaid is the single greatest action our state can take to ensure that every working Louisianan has access to both primary and behavioral health care," Gee said. "Expanding Medicaid will have positive, deep and meaningful impacts in every community in our state, not only by improving access to and the quality of care, but also by creating more jobs, making Louisiana better from both a health and economic perspective."

A full copy of the health assessment can be found by clicking here.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents.To learn more about LDH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.