BY PCC STAFF
In February 2016, Lee County Health Department, in conjunction with the Keokuk Area Hospital and Fort Madison Community Hospital, submitted a three-year Lee County Health Improvement Plan to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Health Improvement Plan was developed as a result of a Community Health Needs Assessment process that involved multiple community organizations, service providers, and citizens who reviewed extensive sets of community health data, community-wide survey results, county demographics, and discussed the health needs of the county.
Four top priory health areas were identified through a voting process by involved community partners to work on over the next three years. This resulted in four taskforce groups charged with the planning, implementation, and moving to action four health improvement goals which includes 1) Promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors for all; 2) Improve mental health, behavioral health Issues, and access to care; 3) Reduce transportation barriers of our workforce and those with access to care issues; and 4) Improve communication, provide education, and motivate our population for change. Members of the four taskforce groups include representatives from public health, hospitals, transportation systems, law enforcement, conservation, mental health providers, economic development, city and county representatives, business and industry; chamber of commerce, extension office; long term care facilities, schools, food producers and vendors, medical and dental providers, and health and fitness organizations.
The taskforce groups recently evaluated progress made over the past year and updated the plan as needed. The updated plan and progress report was submitted to IDPH in May 2017. IDPH commended Lee County for showing such strong results and actions towards improving Lee County’s Health needs according to plan results.
Some highlights of Lee County’s progress to date in the four priority health areas includes:
Healthy Lifestyles/Behaviors: Some of the highlights from the Live Healthy Lee County taskforce group have been the printing of the LHLC Local Food Guide which promotes area producers and farmers markets. The goal of the food guide is to increase awareness of fresh produce access. The objective to increase trail development was met with the completion of the PORT of Fort Madison’s Phase I trail, and the beginning construction of their Phase II trail. The coalition continues to plan wellness outreach activities for youth which will include Kid’s Day at the Fair on July 7th.
Mental Health: We have seen steady success in increasing awareness of mental and behavioral health resources through dissemination of DOC/DHS resource directories and the Iowa Family Support Network link within the provider community. Several providers have been at the table to discuss options and possibilities to reduce wait time for mental health support services such as expanding clinical service array, increasing provider capacity with a multi strategic approach (personnel resources, administrative/data entry reorganization, and system efficiency) and use of telehealth services. Partners are very interested in continually growing to meet the needs and demand of the community in medical and behavioral health arena.
Transportation: We were able to complete surveys of three identified populations: employers, employees, and the general community; regarding access to transportation and barriers for these specific populations. Through a successful collaboration we were able to disseminate information county wide on additional available transportation resources such as use of the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Systems, Public and Private transportation options, grants and volunteer resources. This was done through a very intentional and targeted plan for outreach with multi-partner collaboration efforts.
Communication, education, motivation for change: The biggest accomplishment of this taskforce was to select target populations to promote specific health messages to and provide education on health behaviors. The group chose to focus on veterans’ health during the first year of the plan. This resulted in participating and promoting health during outreach events, and organizing a Veterans Health Fair which was held on April 29th. Several vendors and speakers provided our local veterans with a wealth of information and education about health and wellness and available resources.
More information regarding the Community Health Assessment and Task Force progress can be found at www.leecountyhd.org. If interested in becoming involved with a task force please call (319)372-5225.
BY PCC STAFF