Health Assessment Strategic Planning. Part 2

Remember me telling you about the Health Assessment for Seneca County? I neglected to include the Seneca County General Health District as a member of the Seneca County Health Alliance, and that needs to be corrected. The first assessment was commissioned by the health district, and for the past two years, staff from the health district chaired the alliance, helping revitalize the alliance’s work.

What are we going to do with the information gleaned from the assessment? We had our second strategic planning meeting. The group came prepared to identify issues of concern regarding adults and youth. From the list that was generated, our next homework assignment is to assign points to each concern according to the following criteria.

Let’s take the identified adult concern in Seneca County of obesity and overweight.

Magnitude: How many persons does the problem affect?

Obesity in Seneca County (2013) is at 36 percent as compared to Ohio (2011) at 30 percent and the U.S. (2011) at 28 percent. Add those who are considered overweight at 35 percent and we’re looking at 71 percent of Seneca County adults are overweight or obese based on body mass index. Seneca County’s population in 2011 was 56,672, of which 42,388 were 19 years and older. We now can say that the magnitude of the problem of overweight and obesity affects more than 30,000 adults in Seneca County. Sound significant?

Seriousness of the consequences: Does a degree of disability or premature death occur because of the problem? What are the potential burdens to the community, such as economic or social?

Seneca County’s population in 2010 was 56,745, of which 42,388 were 19 and older. That translates into more than 30,000 adults in Seneca County who have serious weight concerns. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes – some of the leading causes of preventable death. Persons who are obese have medical costs $1,400-plus higher than those who are normal weight. Yep, obesity rates have economic and social burden consequences on the community.

Feasibility of correction: Is the problem amenable to intervention? What technology, knowledge or resources are necessary to effect a change? Is the problem preventable?

Being overweight and obese are preventable. This issue is amenable to intervention, and we are beginning to see signs of change. Restaurants are decreasing portion sizes and marking healthy choices; schools are changing vending machines to carry fewer soda drinks and more water; towns are installing bike and walking paths. Yes, amenable to intervention, and resources to effect change and preventable.

Now that we can rank our concerns, our next step will be to determine what resources are available to address the priorities and what gaps exist. Researching evidence-based practices and drafting the plan are the final phases of this strategic planning.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse.

If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board’s hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director