Community health forum planned for Jan. 17

Published 8:14pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

“We began this process a year ago to determine how we can best work together towards the same goal. Hospitals and health departments representing 16 counties in western North Carolina decided to collaborate on a community health assessment,” Shull explained.

Known as WNC Healthy Impact, this innovative regional partnership allowed efficiencies in compiling health data and provided localized telephone surveys to determine the health, attitudes and needs of each county. Hospitals and health departments are required to perform a community health assessment at least every two years, so this will be the third event hosted in Polk County over the past six years, Shull said.

Following a presentation of data, attendees will be asked to participate in one of four breakout sessions to brainstorm strategies and interventions to address major health issues. According to current, local data Polk County is challenged with the following health problems: chronic diseases (high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol); healthy eating and active living; substance abuse and tobacco; and economy and health.

These breakout discussions will be led by members of Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly (PF3), a local coalition of volunteers who collaborate on health issues and strategies, including advocacy.

Following community health assessments and public input, health providers will develop community health improvement plans (CHIP) to meet federal requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Internal Revenue Service. The health assessment and the resulting CHIP encourage collaboration among health providers and align investments that will improve the health of each community.

– article submitted by Kathy Woodham

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