Plan seeks to improve wellness in Seneca County

A new Strategic Health Plan for Seneca County is about to be finalized and unveiled to the public.

Last week, Michelle Von Lehmden, health assessment coordinator for the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, presided at the final meeting of the Seneca County Strategic Planning Committee at NCOESC. She passed out a draft of the plan for a final review.

Representing 15 institutions, the committee first met in June to examine results of the 2013 Seneca County Community Health Assessment. Over the next five meetings, committee members determined the health issues of highest importance; made a list of existing programs; identified services and activities related to the priorities; noted gaps in those areas; reviewed best practices and proven strategies; and discussed possible actions to address the target issues.

At the final meeting, members added names of individuals and agencies that could take charge of each part of the three-year plan. Von Lehmden reminded the group changes still can be made as budgets are adjusted and government regulations and standards are enacted.

“We don’t know how things are going to look next year,” she said.

Below are the four strategies the committee adopted, in the order of importance, and possible actions to address them.

Reduce obesity among youth and adults.

1. Assist schools in their efforts to encourage increased fruit and vegetable consumption. The committee could help schools to obtain grants for this purpose.

2. Make more organized physical activities available for youth to reduce sedentary behavior.

3. Fostoria Community Hospital and Mercy Tiffin Hospital plan to implement the Ohio Hospital Association’s Healthy Hospitals Initiative. They would make changes in the food choices available in their facilities.

4. Provide more literature on nutrition and exercise to be passed out to obese patients being treated in the offices of primary care physicians.

5. Create a wellness guide and a community calendar with a list of wellness activities and make it available to the public. The information could be posted online and in print, for those who have no computer access.

6. Increase fruit and vegetable availability for emergency food programs.

Increase preventive health programs.

1. Create a county-wide vaccination awareness campaign.

2. Create consistent health screening recommendations for men and women.

3. Increase dental care.

Decrease adult and youth mental health issues.

1. Increase awareness of available mental health services and their costs, if any.

2. Increase early identification of mental health needs among youth.

3. Increase the number of primary care physicians who screen for depression during office visits.

4. Increase education for primary care providers and mental health professionals.

Decrease adult and youth substance abuse.

1. Expand the LifeSkills training curriculum in Seneca County.

2. Implement an evidence-based parenting program.

3. Increase the number of screenings for alcohol and drug abuse by emergency room and primary care physicians.

4. Implement responsible beverage service trainings.

Von Lehmden is to prepare a presentation to be given at the public unveiling of the Seneca County Strategic Plan at 8 p.m. Sept. 11 at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center.

The committee plans to continue to meet on a quarterly basis to monitor the effectiveness of the plan and make revisions.

For more information, contact Nancy Cochran by email at or by phone at (419) 448-0640.