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Recognition as an Age-Friendly Public Health System

By G. Steve Huard, Public Information Officer

November 08, 2021

First Local Health Department in the Nation 

Sarasota, Fla. – 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 by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). DOH-Sarasota received this honor after completing ten significant action steps as part of TFAH’s Age-Friendly Public Health Systems (AFPHS) Recognition Program.

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

The AFPHS Recognition Program is designed to encourage and support state and local health departments to embrace their role in improving and supporting older adult health. Action steps taken to achieve this goal include data collection, listening directly to older adults to learn what matters to them, and collaboration across sectors.

According to TFAH’s President and CEO J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, DOH-Sarasota has been the pioneer county health department in these efforts.

“We are thrilled to recognize Chuck Henry and his team for these efforts,” Gracia added.

To achieve AFPHS recognition, DOH-Sarasota conducted several assessments including a citizens’ opinion survey, developed a county wide 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 State of Florida has been deeply committed to improving the health and well-being of older Floridians. TFAH worked directly with two-thirds of Florida’s county health departments to pilot the framework for creating AFPHS, through which the Department staff explored and expanded their roles in healthy aging. 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.

“We are proud of the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County for taking the initiative to focus on older adult health and to see them receive this recognition from TFAH,” stated Mark Lander, Deputy Secretary of County Health Systems.

 “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, PhD, RN, FAAN, President of The John A. Hartford Foundation. “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. We congratulate the Sarasota County Department of Health, under the leadership of Health Officer Charles H. Henry, for achieving this recognition.”

Public health departments and systems can make important contributions to the health and productivity of older Americans. 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.

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

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. To learn more, please visit www.tfah.org.   

The John A. Hartford Foundation, based in New York City, is a private, nonpartisan, national philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults. The leader in the field of aging and health, the Foundation has three areas of emphasis: creating age-friendly health systems, supporting family caregivers, and improving serious illness and end-of-life care. To learn more, please visit https://www.johnahartford.org/.