With a current estimated population of 925,300 (larger than Wyoming and Iceland) and despite its comparative affluence, Bergen County has significant health and support service challenges.
CONSIDER THESE HIGHLIGHTS
• Nearly one in three households in Bergen has at least one adult over the age of 65, a ratio higher than the state and nation. 61% of Bergen seniors who are 65 years and older have been told they have high blood pressure and hypertension; 27% have been told they have cancer; and 24% have been told they have diabetes.
• New Jersey has one of the highest incidences of individuals reported to suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); a stunning 1 in 45 children in parts of New Jersey (including Bergen County) suffer from ASD according to a recent study.
• Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. (18.5%) experience mental illness and 6 to 10% suffer from a substance abuse disorder in any given year. In Bergen County, 18% of residents report being limited by physical, emotional, or mental health problems with the rate higher among those who are low-income (27%).
• Despite a relatively high median household income, Bergen County has significant pockets of poverty; 18.4% of county households are classified as low-income. Many of these residents live in the central and south-western regions of the county, are disadvantaged, and need greater help in overcoming disparities and navigating the complexities of the health care and social support systems, accordingly.
• About nine of every ten Americans have problems with health care literacy and are sometimes bewildered when it comes to dealing with the system according to a federal government agency study. This includes both the well-educated and affluent who comprise a substantial portion of Bergen County’s total population.
The need for more and better health care and social service information to help Bergen County residents from all walks of life navigate through what management expert Peter Drucker describes as “the most complex human organization ever devised” is beyond doubt. Coordinated community action from Bergen’s public and private sectors to address the problem is needed now more than ever before.
Citations available upon request.