Forum focused on tackling community’s health priorities

Published 6:46 pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

Those attending the health forum also considered means of assisting residents in healthier eating, active living, substance abuse prevention and reduction of tobacco use.

“Together we generated numerous ideas, concerns and suggestions during the break-out discussions, so we have a good foundation for change,” Shull said.

Attendance at the forum included representatives from area mental health services, Hospice, the hospital and its board, the health district, Polk schools, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, the Mill Spring Agricultural Center, Autumn Care, Adawehi, Polk transportation, DSS and the community at large.

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“Working collaboratively is necessary to help St. Luke’s Hospital, our local health district and other providers determine the best use of our resources in order to make a real difference in the health and well-being of Polk County,” Shull said. “Community input is vital too.”

Hines said the district would now analyze all of the data and public input to determine a minimum of two priorities to submit to the state by June.

“We identify what our needs are but more importantly we see if we achieve results not just stare at a book on my shelf,” Hines said.

After June, these groups will determine the best ways different community organizations can work together to address the health priorities. He said in most cases tackling these problems will mean coming at them from different directions.

“You’ve got to find multiple strategies to suit multiple targets,” Hines said. “You might meet one set of the population better through their church, while another you could reach out to through social media. You can’t lay just one strategy down to reach everyone.”

To read more about the health assessment, visit and click on “health promotion.”