Officials review county health plan
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 17, 2013 1:50 AM
The Wayne County Health Department may be charged with being a watchdog for public health, but its clinics and services can't take care of everything, the county health director told the Board of Health on Wednesday.
Health Director Davin Madden said the biggest areas of concern in the county can be narrowed down to three -- chronic diseases, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases.
The springboard for the discussion was the proposed Community Health Action Plan, a response to the recent Community Health Assessment that gathered feedback from residents about what they think are the most pressing health needs in the county.
"Businesses that are looking to come to Wayne County, they look at community health concerns," Madden said "Is it crime? Is it poverty?"
The county health board was taking a look at the first draft of the Community Health Action Plan, which is required by the state and is designed to explain how the county will reach certain health goals by 2020.
Ultimately, Madden said, the county must close the gaps that exist in health coverage and education, whether those are associated with race, income or age.
In the plan, he explained, the state asked the department to identify problem areas and share what is currently being done or will be done to alleviate the concerns. No longer, he said, is it sufficient to simply continue doing what has always been done in the past.
"It's got to be measurable, it's got to be realistic, it's got to be time-sensitive -- SMART," he said, referencing the state's acronym for the objectives of the health plan -- "specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive."
So far, Madden said, the state has responded favorably to the ideas being implemented in the county.
The GoWayneGo initiative, targeting obesity issues, is one of the more positive efforts, he said.
Since statistics were reported that 16.4 percent of children in the county ages 5-11 and 72 percent of adults are overweight, the push was made to collectively get residents to become more physically active.
Among some of the ideas being proposed, Madden said, are information kiosks and benches that could be added at Herman Park.
However, he noted that while that is a positive direction, there is still a glaring area that does not seem to be going away any time soon -- STDs, especially chlamydia.
"We can educate people. We do it aggressively," he said of the Health Department and particularly its STD clinic. "If you have people that come in, they're in the treatment process. How do you get them in the prevention (of it)?
"Business is booming in that area and it shouldn't be. We don't want it to be. We would be OK if we didn't have a maximum schedule, a full clinic in that area."
STDs, chlamydia and syphilis are not popular subjects and certainly not comfortable ones to discuss, Madden said.
"What do you do to engage people?" he asked. "It's a subject that most people aren't impacted by.
"But do we as a community address it honestly and give it the time it deserves? But not so much time that it becomes almost counter-intuitive."
The Community Action Plan currently focuses on tackling the issue through WISH, the school-based health centers that are operating in six of the public schools. Those provide opportunities to address sex education, Madden said, and work to cover prevention and healthy behaviors.
But, he admitted, efforts cannot be limited to that age demographic.
"What about the population that we haven't reached? It's in the adults, too," he said. "We're going to be thinking outside the box."
The Community Health Action Plan, like the Community Health Assessment, is conducted every three years. The current effort covers the period from 2013 to 2016.