Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of a three-part series detailing reports from the Meigs County Health Department.
POMEROY — The final segment of the Meigs County Health Department 2015 report focuses on the accreditation process Ohio is requiring of all local and state health departments and the Women Infants Children program.
All health departments in the state are required to become nationally accredited by 2020. National accreditation standards address public health functions set forth in the “10 Essential Public Health Services” — monitor health, diagnose and investigate, inform, educate and empower, mobilize community partnerships, develop policies, enforce laws, link to and provide care, assure a competent workforce, evaluate and research.
The Public Health Accreditation Board is the independent organization that administers the public health national accreditation program. The goal of the accreditation is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of the nation’s health departments.
Michelle Willard was hired in October 2015, as the accreditation coordinator administrative assistant for MCHD and said, “The accreditation is both challenging and exciting. The national accreditation process will push the entire department and its partners forward to our goal of a healthy community where every residents enjoy the best possible state of health and well-being.”
MCHD has plans to apply for accreditation in 2017, and has taken steps to move the goal forward.
Documentation is required for application, and MCHD has completed their Community Health Assessment and Quality Improvement plans. The Community Health Improvement Plan, Organization Strategic Plan and Workforce Development Plan are all in progress. The All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan has been updated and they are compiling “documentation to prove effective operation” of the department.
With funds obtained from the Ohio Public Health Partnerships grant, MCHD contracted with the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs to conduct a community health assessment as part of the required accreditation process.
The health department chose the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships model to guide their process. The MAPP model has six phases: organizing, visioning, assessment, strategic issues, goals/strategies and action cycle.
The Voinovich School provided technical assistance, facilitation and data collection for the first three MAPP phases and the Get Healthy Meigs! Coalition was instrumental in this ongoing process
Trends were identified in the CHA, and they are: detrimental economic issues, the need for recreational areas and to encourage healthy behaviors. High rates of chronic illness, mortality stigma related to mental health and a perception that individuals are to “blame” for their own health issues were also on the list.
A perception of substance abuse as a key issue in the community surfaced along with a low awareness of treatment options for mental and behavioral health issues.
A positive trend among Meigs residences is strong sense of community support.
Heart disease was identified as the leading cause of death in Meigs County, followed by lung disease, lung cancer, unintentional injury, stroke, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. The rates of death were higher for Meigs than both the Ohio and national averages.
Chronic health conditions for the county were high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes.
Selected indicators for maternal and child health show low birth weight to account for 9.70 percent of infant deaths from 2006-2012, higher than the state or national average. Teens between 15 and 19 giving birth showed Meigs had 45.30 births per 1,000 population; the state average is 36.o, and the national average is 36.0.
Meigs infant mortality rates were 9.20 per 1,000 births, according to data recorded from 2006-2010; state average was 7.70 and national was 6.52.
Under health behaviors, the county also fell below average when it came to physical exercise and the amount of fruits and vegetables residents consumed daily.
Meigs also exceeded the national average of current smokers which is 18.8 percent of the population; data showed 39.9 percent of the residents of Meigs County are current smokers.
The WIC program is an important part of improving the health of Meigs women and children.
William Lambert, a registered nurse and director of WIC, explained it is a supplementary and education program that provides nutritious foods to promote good health for women who are pregnant, have just delivered or are breastfeeding. It also addresses the nutritional needs of infants and children up to five years of age.
About 592 residents participated in the program in 2015.
Nutrition education classes are held twice monthly and WIC also provides one-on-one nutrition education, tailoring the experience to each individual they serve.
Three of the staff attended the annual Ohio Lactation Consultant Association conference and were able to incorporate the latest innovations to assist breastfeeding mothers and infants. As a result, breastfeeding rates jumped by 25 percent in the county.
WIC staffed an informational, breastfeeding and diaper changing station at the Meigs Medical Mission and exposed WIC to 3,000 residents.
The group successfully introduced the “% A’s Perinatal Smoking Cessation Program” and were honored by the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Partners for Smoke-Free Families.
Meigs WIC was one of the first programs in Ohio to institute the change from WIC coupons to the new Nutrition Card Electronic Benefits Transfer system.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.