Archive for Thursday, December 5, 2013

City council endorses county health plan

December 5, 2013

Goals, strategies of health plan

Access to healthy food

Create environments where healthy food consumption is easier and more likely through:

• Improved nutrition environment for children birth to age 18 in child-care settings, schools and before- and after-school programs.

• Assure opportunities for healthy eating at work.

• Improve food and beverage environments in public venues.

• Enhance access to healthy food for low-income families.

Access to health services

Ensure that the Douglas County health care system offers efficient and effect primary and preventive care services, which are affordable, accessible and timely to all through:

• Increased awareness of available services and increased use of preventive care.

• Enhanced navigation of support services and skills.

• Increasing number of primary care providers for Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured.

• Ensure services are available at times residents can use them.

Access to mental health services

Create a community that values mental and behavioral health and encouraging all to seek help when needed by promoting prevention and mental health needs. Steps taken should be:

• Improve awareness of mental health services.

• Improve integration of primary health and mental and behavioral health.

• Reduce stigma regarding mental health illness and treatment.

• Reduce or prevent inappropriate incarceration of those with mental health issues.

Physical activity

Create an environment and culture through policy and change, which makes physical activity easier and more rewarding for all through:

• Making it easier for residents to walk, bike or wheel to everyday destinations.

• Encouraging active living at work.

• Adopting policies to ensure physical activity in schools, before- and after-school programs and day care facilities.

Poverty and jobs

All residents have equal opportunity for employment and resources, which meet the needs of their families, through:

• Enhancing partnerships for schools/community colleges to prepare people for good-paying trade/industrial jobs.

• Ensuring that families’ economic needs are met by developing sustainable employment opportunities.

• Enhancing employer and community supports for those services necessary to obtain and retain jobs.

• Communicating information about what contributes to poverty and how it can be addressed.

After a tag-team presentation Monday, the Baldwin City Council endorsed a county health plan meant to provide a healthier environment in Douglas County.

Called Roadmap to a Healthier Douglas County, the plan seeks to provide healthier policies and environments in five key areas. Presenting details of the plan to the council were Douglas County Health Department director Dan Partridge, Health Department board chairman David Ambler, Johnson County Community Foundation executive director Chip Blaser , Douglas County Community Health executive director Janelle Martin and Susan Johnson of Douglas County K-State Research and Extension.

Partridge said the plan was part of the county health department’s increased focus on wellness and prevention and was meant to address the high rate of preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. He said the plan recognized individuals were responsible for their own health but that government agencies, health providers and organizations in the county could develop policies and environments to help them make healthy decisions.

“We want to create an environment in this community where the easy choice is the healthy choice,” he said

The plan presented to the council was developed from a county health assessment conducted two years ago. That assessment sought to identify county health issues through a survey of 1,500 county residents and focus groups and meetings in all county communities.

The assessment identified 13 county health issues. Ambler said it was agreed to address those in five-year increments with the plan presented to the council Monday identifying goals and proposing strategies to make improvement in the top five issues. The five areas selected for improvement are listed in the box above.

Between September 2012 and April 2013, a steering committee defined overall goals, and working groups developed strategies of improvement in all five areas.

The plan should be considered when those serving on government bodies or agency boards made decisions, said Johnson, who was chair of the healthy food work group. She and other presenters cited topics the council discussed Monday, such as sidewalk and trails planning and a proposed disc golf course, as decisions that would have a bearing on the community’s health environment.

The plan provided a tool for the city and other county community groups to align planning in the five key areas, Johnson said. In answer to a question from Mayor Marilyn Pearse, Johnson said there was already greater communication among community providers, which has led to less duplication of services.


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