St. Luke’s Hospital, Health Department, PF3 to host community health forum Tuesday

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mental Health, Healthy Eating and Active Living are the leading health challenges facing Polk County residents, according to a comprehensive review of data and demographics that measures the health and wellness of those who live in the local rural county.

Results of the 2018 Community Health Assessment will be reported during a communitywide meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Isothermal Community College-Polk. The public is encouraged to attend and participate in discussions that will help healthcare providers and other community services determine the top health priorities to be addressed over the next three years.

“Hospitals and health departments across the country are in the process of investigating health disparities and seeking solutions to help address these issues,” said David Pope, interim CEO with St. Luke’s Hospital. “This health forum is intended to bring people and agencies together to prioritize and address health challenges affecting our county.”

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The health forum will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to engage the community in identifying resources and community assets that together can make a difference in Polk County. The community meeting is sponsored by St. Luke’s Hospital, the Rutherford-Polk-McDowell Health District and Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly, the county’s wellness coalition.

Public health providers are mandated through the Accountable Care Act to perform a CHA every three years to create solutions and measure their effectiveness in addressing high-priority health concerns. Through public data and customized survey questions, the report is then used to create action plans for improving these issues.

With a focus on the top two to three priorities, strategies and action plans will be used to develop a Community Health Improvement Plan. The federally mandated CHIP will be used to document, measure and communicate results.

Addressing public health is a major focus of local health departments, according to Yanet Cisneros, Healthy Communities coordinator.

“But we cannot do it alone or in a vacuum. It is vital that we share consensus and resources to address issues such as obesity,” Cisneros said. “We have to look at this from various angles. We may need to address such barriers as access to primary care, opportunities for recreation and healthy eating. Positive results can only be achieved by working with healthcare, education, social and faith-based services.”

“It will take community resources working together to affect positive change for the health and wellness of our residents,” said Jimmi Buell, chair of PF3. 

The health forum is free, and the public is invited to attend. Dinner will be served, and reservations are requested.

Those interested in attending may call 828-287-6042 or 828- 894-0972.

– Submitted by St. Luke’s Hospital