Jefferson County health professionals to hold town halls

by Dennis Sharkey

Jefferson County Health officials are making a lot of phone calls and asking questions looking for the answers to a healthier community.

The health professionals are part of the Health Education And Leadership (HEAL) committee. The committee is made up of professionals who live and work in the county.

Jefferson County Public Health Department Director Beth Brown said the group developed from a community health assessment training that occurred in December. Judy Johnson, project consultant, helped the committee develop a name, mission statement and vision statement.The group’s vision is “A unified county where all residents have access to resources which support and sustain a quality life.”

Beginning next month the group will be conducting community health assessments town hall style meetings in all of the county’s cities including two meetings in Oskaloosa.

HEAL Chairwoman Renie Stephan with the McLouth Medical Clinic said the group has 52 pages of contact information of people in the county who they consider stakeholders and trusted people.

“We’re asking people to allow us to use their names,” Stephan said.

The group wants to use stakeholders as an endorsement to attend the meetings. HEAL not only wants to hear from community stakeholders but also from the everyday people who do not usually have a voice or feel comfortable expressing their opinions.

“Who else can tell us what’s wrong with our community than the people in the community?” Stephan said.

The group is looking for data that can help them develop a community health assessment plan of action. They want to know what residents think a healthy community looks like.

“What if we had a healthy, perfect county?” Stephan said. “What would it look like?”

The ideas could range from highway safety and access to nutrition to recreation and fitness or access to health care.

“It’s a grass roots effort and it’s for us,” Melinda Harwood, pastor of Oskaloosa United Methodist Church and a member of HEAL, said. “It’s being done by Jefferson County people for Jefferson County people,” Harwood said.

The group hopes to collect the data and present a county-wide assessment this fall.

Brown said the state and other organizations will partner together next year to hire a software vendor to manage the data. She said it will allow the state to go after more federal grants.

Some dates have been set but others are being finalized. Look for a listing of meeting dates in the coming weeks.

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Posted by on Feb 16 2012. Filed under County News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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