Group focuses on health issues facing Seneca

With a draft of the 2013 Seneca County Health Assessment completed, 15 members of the Seneca County Health Alliance met for a second time Wednesday to identify key issues and concerns.

Michelle Von Lehmden of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio presided to guide the process. Her company conducted the health assessment, compiled the data and printed the report. At the first meeting, she asked members of the alliance to vote on what they believed to be the most significant findings for adults and children.

“It is interesting to see how this plays out, Von Lehmden said. “When we leave today, we’ll know what we’re going to be working on.”

Members agreed on four main topics to be addressed: weight control for adults and children; mental health of youth and adults; preventive health screenings; and substance abuse in the community.

In Seneca County, substance abuse is an ongoing challenge that often precipitates other problems, such as motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence and job loss. Attendees discussed launching programs to curb the problem at an earlier age.

Nancy Cochran of Mental Health and Recovery Services discussed the link between substance abuse and mental illness. She recalled a counseling program in a local school district that began as a mental health program and expanded to include substance abuse.

“A couple of the (athletic team) coaches came and asked if they could do something for substance abuse, not so much for the kids but for the effect on the kids from home experiences. It moved from mental health to mental health and substance abuse. I think we see that more and more,” Cochran said.

Von Lehmden suggested one program could be designed to target a combination of concerns. Lori Myers, a nurse at Mercy Tiffin Hospital, said Community Action for the Reduction of Substance Abuse already is in place generating appropriate programs. It could serve as a foundation on which to build and expand.

Sharon George, director of Family and Children First, reminded the group that a list of resources related to substance abuse was completed after a previous health assessment. It only needs to be updated.

“We’ve already got resources in Tiffin. We know what resources are out there,” George added.

Von Lehmden advised the group to bring that list to the next meeting as a starting point for the committee to make an inventory of community resources. Alliance members were asked to indicate which programs, agencies and services are actually helping to improve the health of local citizens.

“We want to know how it is evaluated,” Von Lehmden said.

Myers suggested including information on eligibility, accessibility and cost for the resources available. She said clients want to know if there is a waiting list or a fee for a service, or if it’s covered by insurance or Medicare.

“If it’s costly, and you don’t have the money, you’re not going to do it,” Myers said.

When the charts are finished, the alliance is to look for gaps in services and prepare an action plan to address the health issues for adults and youth.

The group is to meet July 31, Aug. 7 and Aug. 14. The plan is to be presented at a public event Sept. 11, along with the final draft of the health assessment.