A local coalition has been working diligently to put Jackson County residents on the path to better health.
The Healthy Jackson County coalition focuses on three key areas: Improving nutrition, decreasing tobacco use and increasing physical activity.
A fourth area, healthcare for the Hispanic population, recently was added.
"The Hispanic Health Task Force work group was developed at the height of the COVID pandemic almost a year ago to address some of the disparities we were seeing in COVID cases within our community," said Bethany Daugherty, key coordinator of the HJC coalition and a health and wellness education specialist at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.
Members of this newest task force are specifically working toward reaching the Hispanic members of the community and making information available in their language.
Daugherty said all four HJC work groups have been working for months to develop its first Community Health Improvement Plan, and HJC had an all-member meeting last month via Zoom to reveal the CHIP for Jackson County.
"We’re excited to share this plan, which has been about six or seven months in the making," Daugherty said. "This will essentially be our coalition’s and our community’s strategic plan and road map for the next two years or so."
Daugherty said the CHIP has been a labor of love for everyone who has been involved.
"We love where we live so much, and we hope it puts us on the path to improving the health of our community," she said.
CHIP is a long-term systematic effort to address public health problems based on the Community Health Needs Assessment data, the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process, and it’s updated every few years, according to cdc.gov.
The health needs assessment is completed by Schneck every three years.
"The data then is collected, some secondary data sources are also included in that assessment, some interviews with people within the community and also some primary data," Daugherty said.
She said the collected data go together to provide an improvement plan. From that, Schneck has an internal plan to address some of the priorities identified in the needs assessment.
"Schneck can’t do it alone, so that’s where all of the other partners involved in Healthy Jackson County and even beyond our Jackson County coalition need to step in to fill the gaps because our hospital doesn’t have the ability to manage all of that," Daugherty said.
The priority areas that were identified after reviewing the CHNA data are substance use and mental health, nutrition, physical activity, weight and access to care.
"Mental health was discussed in each of these areas because we know it affects all of these differently," Daugherty said. "We included our access to care within our Hispanic Health Task Force because we know that piece of our community faces some unique struggles to accessing care."
She said having this CHIP plan sets the coalition up on a good path to developing strategies for a few years, time to reassess and see what’s being effective and what’s not, and then reorganize the strategy and continue on.
"In 2020, the HJC coalition had a lot of great plans coming from the work groups, but COVID derailed them like it derailed a lot of other areas of our life, and so we had to put a lot of things on hold," Daugherty said.
Around that same time when they were trying to get their footing back and meet virtually, the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement approached the coalition.
"They offered to be a community partner on our coalition and had the opportunity to develop this Community Health Improvement Plan with us," Daugherty said.
In total, HJC has hosted nine community conversations, which included more than 55 individuals and 36 partner organizations involved in the process.
The Jackson County CHIP document is not quite finished yet, but goals, objectives and strategies are in place within each of the work groups, which will begin implementing strategies on the following dates and times: Tobacco, 11:30 a.m. today; nutrition, 10 a.m. Wednesday; Hispanic health, 3 p.m. April 26; and physical activity, 11:30 a.m. May 18.
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Anyone interested in partnering with Healthy Jackson County should contact Bethany Daugherty at [email protected] or 812-523-4842.
The next all-coalition meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 18.
For information, visit schneckmed.org/community-wellness/healthy-jackson-county/home.
To view the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement Jackson County Storyboard, visit chna-chip-iu.hub.arcgis.com/app/7f98804e95634bfab4d90b3051778c91.