Department of Health in Sarasota County first local agency in U.S. to be recognized as Age-Friendly Public Health System by Trust for America’s Health

Department completed ten ‘significant steps’ to earn honor

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County’s primary location is at the intersection of Ringling Boulevard and School Avenue in downtown Sarasota. Image from Google Maps

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) has become the first local health department in the nation to receive recognition as an Age-Friendly Public Health System, an honor accorded by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), DOH-Sarasota has announced.

The department completed “ten significant action steps as part of TFAH’s Age-Friendly Public Health Systems (AFPHS) Recognition Program,” a news release explains.

“Recognition as an Age-Friendly Public Health System validates our efforts to be intentional in addressing the public health needs of older adults,” said Sarasota County Health Officer Chuck Henry in the release. “I am proud of our entire team and their work to earn this recognition.”

The AFPHS Recognition Program is designed to provide encouragement and support to state and local health departments as they embrace their role “in improving and supporting older adult health,” the release points out. Among the steps to achieve this goal are data collection, “listening directly to older adults to learn what matters to them, and collaboration across sectors,” the release adds.

According to TFAH’s president and CEO, Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, DOH-Sarasota “has been the pioneer county health department in these efforts.”

To achieve AFPHS recognition, DOH-Sarasota conducted several assessments, including a residents opinion survey; developed a countywide, multi-agency program to provide food to residents during the pandemic; developed a multi-year Community Health Improvement Plan; and recently completed its fifth-year cycle as a member of AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, the release points out.

TFAH worked directly with two-thirds of Florida’s county health departments to pilot the framework for creating AFPHS, through which the Florida Department of Health staff members “explored and expanded their roles in healthy aging,” the release notes. “This effort included creating and supporting collaborations between the public health and aging sectors, collecting data about the state’s older adult population, and ensuring planning and programming is done through the lens of aging members of the community,” the release adds.

“Sarasota County, Florida, is on the vanguard of communities that are recognizing the importance of creating an age-friendly ecosystem across sectors to meet the unique needs of older adults,” said Terry Fulmer, president of The John A. Hartford Foundation, in the release. “Becoming the first local health department recognized as an Age-Friendly Public Health System shows a deep commitment to supporting healthy aging, which will benefit all of the county’s residents.”

“TFAH and The John A. Hartford Foundation are partnering with state and local health departments to help them implement a public health framework within their department activities to support the health and well being of their older adult residents,” the release explains.

Learn more about the Age-Friendly Public Health Systems initiative at https://afphs.org/.

“The Trust for America’s Health is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority,” the release notes.

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