Targeted Healthy Behaviors for Vermilion County | News

It may take years to meet health care goals in Vermilion County, with the region seeing wins along the way, such as reducing child poverty to 24% from 30, and lower teen pregnancies, with the county now posting single-digit numbers of 9.8 percent when at one point it was around 24 percent.

Even more so with the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials are realizing how important access to care and healthy behaviors are.

Health care, social services, law enforcement and emergency responders, faith-based organizations, schools, businesses and other officials gathered at Danville Area Community College’s Bremer Conference Center on Tuesday. for a community health assessment stakeholder meeting. They reviewed the current goals of the Illinois Local Needs Assessment Project (IPLAN), heard from priority working groups, reviewed a recent community assessment survey and community data, and selected the top four priorities for the next three-year period to focus on.

Normally, this collaborative meeting would have taken place next year, after the 2020 meeting, but it has been increased by one year to keep OSF HealthCare hospitals on the same schedule.

About seven years ago, the Vermilion County Health Department and Carle and OSF Hospitals moved from independently conducting the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and Community Health Plan to a collaborative movement . Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center, OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center, United Way of Danville Area and the Vermilion County Health Department formed an executive committee to conduct the assessment and health plan to meet the requirements certification.

IPLAN is a community health assessment and planning process conducted every five years by local health authorities in Illinois. In 2020, the Vermilion County Health Department moved to a three-year plan to match local hospital and mental health three-year plans. The essential elements of the IPLAN are: an assessment of organizational capacities; a community health needs assessment; and a community health plan, focused on a minimum of three priority health issues, according to the health department.

On Tuesday, the group chose to move forward with four priorities and working groups for the next three years: behavioral health, anti-violence, income/poverty and healthy behavior.

Melissa Rome, Emergency Planning and Response Coordinator and Community Liaison with the Health Department, and who will leave her post this week after nearly 22 years at the Health Department for a new position as a health consultant in a private company, said about 200 people were invited to the stakeholder meeting, including local and state government officials, to discuss issues facing the county.

In the past, the priorities were substance abuse, mental health, teenage pregnancy, obesity and violence. Some have been dropped or combined over the years, Rome said.

The new priority of healthy behaviors will cover healthy eating, increased health checks and basic health care for children and adults.

“I think it will be a very good mix,” Rome said of the priorities.

The group heard from Tara Wright about the Anti-Violence Task Force which examines issues such as gun violence and youth violence, elder abuse, sexual violence and student talks; Niah Hamilton on income/poverty issues, food insecurity down to 14% but higher than state and surrounding (4% go hungry locally 1-5 days a week), increased high school graduation rates, how to get people to live here and stay here, and employment issues with less population and less labor force; coroner Jane McFadden on overdoses and suicides; and Danville Police Chief Chris Yates on local crime statistics and seeing fewer homicides and robberies, but more sexual assaults and robberies.

In other discussions, access to dental care, with people without insurance and unable to pay a copayment, is another big issue.

Local public transportation for access to care and jobs will also likely change due to a loss of $1 million in federal funding due to the loss of local population.

Looking at health data, heart disease, cancer and COVID-19 were the leading causes of death locally.

Grants received locally have been used for youth mental health first aid training and adult training, with more than 4,000 people trained, according to Vermilion County 708 Mental Health Board Director , Jim Russell.

He said one of the problems is that people don’t know where to go when they need help.

A list of local mental health, counseling and other services is available at: https://www.vercounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Vermilion-County-Resource-List -Final-Edit-3-11-2022.pdf.

Russell said questions about mental health are now being asked during doctor visits.

In July, the Illinois Department of Social Services – Division of Mental Health plans to operationalize “988” as a three-digit phone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health hotline. mental health crises.

“I think the idea is fantastic,” Russell said. “It will be a beautiful system if it works as expected.”

Rome said the county experienced drug addiction and other issues before the COVID-19 pandemic, but some problems have worsened.

The group discussed that some people are still reluctant to see a doctor or seek advice due to stigma.

Rome said the pandemic showed how much people need people.

“You’ve seen a lot of depression,” she said. “Our kids are going to need a little extra help.”

There was isolation and loss. Many children have lost a caregiver, she said.

Looking back, the county has had high unhealthy risk factors such as not exercising, a 43% obesity rate, not eating healthy or not being able to afford to eat healthily, a rate high cholesterol and blood pressure, not taking medication and poverty rates which increased the chances of having severe COVID-19. Residents did not have access to health care, housing or food in some cases, where they could not maintain healthy behaviors, Rome said.

The county’s access to exercise opportunities has declined, she said, also adding that more than 53% had an underlying health condition.

“We’re going to continue to learn a lot from COVID over the next decade,” she added, about what worked and didn’t work and how many low-income citizens were more likely to succumb. to COVID. The county has recorded nearly 300 COVID-19 related deaths over the past two years.

The working groups will continue to meet monthly. Those interested in joining a working group can contact the health department.

Rome said there are many passionate members of the community who care and work for the betterment of the community.

A final health survey document will also be compiled by August.

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