05/07/13 — Group focuses on obesity, diabetes in community

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Group focuses on obesity, diabetes in community

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 7, 2013 1:46 PM

Obesity and diabetes were targeted Monday afternoon by an ad hoc gathering of more than 40 local elected officials, health professionals and community leaders as two of the major health care issues facing Wayne County.

People know what it takes to be healthier -- better eating habits and exercise -- the problem is motivating them, committee members said.

But one member said that it wasn't the first time the community has looked at problems, only to fail to follow up with action. However, the group agreed it needed to maintain its efforts and form a community-based task force to continue to look at health needs and work for solutions.

Monday's three-hour health retreat at Lane Tree Golf Club, a pet project of Wayne County Commission Chairman Steve Keen, was facilitated by Steve Orton and Dorothy Cilenti of the N.C. Institute of Public Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

"Where are we taking this group? Where do we take this energy? What is our next meeting and who is going to chair it?" Orton said. "The task force what we are looking for now, is it a new group, or is it an existing group that takes this forward?"

Wayne County Health Department Director Davin Madden noted that the county had recently completed a community health assessment, but that there was really no direction, or objectives after it was finished.

"We have that tool (assessment)," he said. "We have a lot of the same voices (here)," he said. "I think it needs to be a lot of the same people, but I also think we need to select some stakeholders in the community, community members, to be on the task force. It does not have to be a small group. It can be 20 people.

"Then we move it forward with these next steps or objectives and we decide together in a consensus model what we do we want to have that one voice be?"

The task force would then be charged with developing how to get others to "buy" into the program, he said.

Wayne County is known for its collaboration, but there is still room for improvement, Madden said.

He reminded the group that a health coalition of 20 to 25 health organizations or nonprofits had administered a community health grant. So services are still splintered and the group needs to figure out resources, prioritize and then develop the task force, he said.

Rebecca W. Craig, Wayne Memorial Hospital, vice president, finance and CFO, recommended at least holding quarterly meetings of interested parties to reassess and look at goals to see what has been successful and at the areas where more work is needed.

"I think you lose momentum if you don't do that," she said.

"Anything that we do as a group will have a cost and will require cost share," Madden said. "The task force will have to address that as well."

Keen that as far as funding that is, "where we would come in to make sure it is funded."

Concern was expressed that the effort be extended outside the Goldsboro city limits and into the county's rural communities and other municipalities to see how obesity looks in those areas.

People who live in the county often can't or don't have time to drive 20 or 25 minutes to an activity in Goldsboro, one member said.

There is funding for those same communities, but they need assistance and help in educating them, Ms. Craig said. Grant-making entities exist for small towns to help with health issues, and the grants should be sought, she said.

"We are a poor county," she said. "Let's face it. I think we need to do what we can to find not-for-profits that are interested in helping a poor county bring better health care to its residents."

"How many times have we been in this room at various meetings talking about different issues," said Christine Smith, Cooperative Extension Service agent. "We come up with the same thing, but we don't have a plan to deliver. At some point we have got to get to the action stage. Somebody asked a while ago how can we get limited resource people at the table to understand what a healthy lifestyle is and how to cook better and be physically active?

"You telling them is not the key. You are not going to get by-in by us sitting here figuring it out. They have to be a part of this discussion now because they are in their communities and then they will take that back and get by in there. You have got to know how to reach people"

It takes times to build relationships and until that time it is a wasted effort, she said.

One person noted that a major factor in health is education. However, they also pointed out that while the room was full of educated people there were still ones there who have weight problems.

"The successful children have successful parents," said Dr. Dave Tayloe of Goldsboro Pediatrics. "My feeling is nothing is going to change until you see adults walking all over Wayne County."

One way to do so is for employers to pay some or all of gym memberships, they said.

People can turn in sheets showing how far they have walked, but measurable goals, like weight loss, are what is needed, Ms. Craig said.

"Ultimately our goal is to stop gaining or else we are going to have one-third of our population diabetic by 2050," she said. "It is kids. It is adults. We are seeing diabetes in kids that we didn't see 20 years ago.

"But I will say in Wayne County the statistics are actually positive on the child obesity. That is different than the rest of the state."

Ms. Craig said she attributes that to programs at the Family Y and Goldsboro Pediatrics trying to get at-risk children into the programs.