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Volunteers wanted for health dept assessment

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By Kristin Beck

Three Rivers District Health Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying public health issues in Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties. This information will be used to help create policies to increase the quality of life in those communities.

Three Rivers is hosting a 2013 Assessment Kick-Off from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, April 16 at the Carroll County Health Center. Light hor d’oeuvres will be served.

The kick off is a thank you to all those who have participated in the last four to five years with the assessment and to engage those who might be interested in participating in the future, Three Rivers District Health Department Community Education Manager April Harris said.

The last community assessments were taken in 2007. After a three-year process, the health department released the Community Health Assessment, a combined effort with its Health and Safety Partnerships. In Carroll County, the assessments are being held in conjunction with Triad Health Systems and the Carroll County Health and Safety Partnership, a coalition developed by the participation in the 2007 assessments.

The health department utilizes the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships process. Four assessments are completed by following the MAPP process:

National Public Health Performance Standards Program measures the capacity of the local public health system to conduct essential public health services.

Community Themes and Strengths is a community health and safety survey that provides an in-depth look at the health related behaviors of the many different segments of the communities.

Community Health Status is statistical information gathered from various sources to provide indicators of the current health status in the community.

Forces of Change Assessment takes into account external forces of change, including social, environmental, governmental and economic changes that have an impact on health services.

Once the four assessments were completed in 2007, the results were compiled into a chart for each county, and community partners in each county gathered monthly to identify the top six issues they felt were most important to address.

Carroll County Health and Safety Partnership meets at noon on the third Tuesday of the month at the Carroll County Health Center.

Part one of the assessment, the National Public Health Performance Standards Program, will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 7 at the Carroll County Cooperative Extension. Please RSVP by emailing RebeccaE.Wilson@ky.gov. Lunch will be served.

Both the kick off and the program are open to the public.

In a 2009 community themes and strengths survey, cancer, alcohol/drug abuse and heart disease/stroke were identified as health problems in Carroll County. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse and tobacco use were identified as risky behaviors.

The following are four of the goals set in the Community Health Assessment for the county:

Improve the oral health of Carroll County.

Carroll County’s cardiovascular health will improve by increasing the level of physical activity.

Carroll County will be smoke free.

Carroll County residents will experience an increase in cancer screenings.

Carroll County residents have room to improve when it comes to overall health. Carroll was ranked 67th overall among the 120 Kentucky counties in the County Health Rankings, published every March as a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Among the other counties in the Three Rivers District Health Department area, Owen County scored the best, ranked 20th. Pendleton County ranked 90th, while Gallatin County ranked 94th.

The County Health Rankings look at a variety of measures that affect health, such as the rate of people dying before age 75, high school graduation rates, unemployment, limited access to healthy foods, air and water quality, income and rates of smoking, obesity and teen births, according to its website.

“We are very happy there are ways to capture the data,” Harris said. However, she believes each county should collect its own data and use the County Health Rankings as a jumping off point. She also said missing data in a county’s profile hurts their overall score. Harris said last year, changes were made in the data, the way it was collected and where it came from, which also influenced the rankings.