Obesity and access to healthcare for both adults and youth were ranked at the top of the list of health concerns for Morrow County residents in the 2016 community health assessment conducted by the Morrow County Health Department.
The health survey was completed this year by 425 adult residents and 326 youth in Morrow County. There were 115 questions for adults and 75 for youth from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) The health department worked with the Community Health Improvement Planning Committee (CHIP) to identify key health issues in the county.
Morrow County Health Commissioner, Pam Butler said that CHIP committee members ranked the issues from the survey along with county and state statistics to focus on four priorities in the next three years. After obesity and access to healthcare, major issues to address will be drug use and mental health for adults and youth.
The survey and CHIP meetings were done this year as part of the Community Health Assessment required for accreditation of the Morrow County Health District. Obtaining this national accreditation is a major undertaking for the Morrow County Health Department.
Public health districts in Ohio first began to have accreditation requirements in 2012 by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB.) By July 1, 2020 all counties in Ohio will need to have this national accreditation in order to remain an independent health district. Counties without accreditation will likely be forced to partner with other counties.
Butler said this project is not cheap. Fortunately they have had help with some expenses from the Morrow County Hospital and received a grant that has helped them with the CHIP expenses. However there will be more fees for the accreditation and other counties estimate that the total cost can be as much as $150,000 to do the accreditation.
The CHIP committee includes representatives from the hospital, schools, agencies, health care providers, government and law enforcement. She invites anyone with an interest to join future CHIP meetings.
Morrow County Hospital CEO, Chad J. (CJ) Miller commented that it’s important to have real investment by the community in this health assessment process.
“We need to bring more to the table,” said Miller. “All the school districts and law enforcement need to be here. The group needs to own this project and bring others.”
Butler said the health department is fortunate to have the support of the Morrow County Hospital as well as Community Health Improvement Planning Committee (CHIP) and the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio (HCNO.) HCNO representatives are facilitating the group meetings as well as working with the health department on every aspect of the accreditation.
There is a seven step process to get health district accreditation and Morrow County has now completed the first part with the health assessment. A second step is the CHIP committee strategy and planning work. The HCNO group will then write their report and the Health Department will form their internal strategic plan. All that is needed before the application for accreditation is made.
Butler said that Morrow County is very fortunate to have this group at HCNO working on the application process with them. They have already helped with the successful accreditation of five other counties in the state.
At the October CHIP meeting, those attending wrote examples of both strengths and forces of change in Morrow County. Participants agreed that a major strength for Morrow County is collaboration among groups and agencies. A concerning factor is the loss of jobs with the closing of some industries. Focusing on strategies, plans and actions for change will be the next step in the project.
Butler is glad that “everyone at the Morrow County Health Department has embraced the accreditation process.” She also expressed appreciation for people from a dozen agencies who are a part of the CHIP committee. “We don’t want our county to lose our accreditation,” she added. The full Community Health Assessment is at: www.morrowcountyhealth.org/community.
The next CHIP meeting will be on Thurs. Nov. 17 from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Morrow County Community Services Building. Call Pam Butler at the health dept. to be a part of the community health improvement planning at 419-947-1545.
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