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HC Board of Health continues work on health improvement plan

Henry County Public Health is continuing to work on a health improvement plan, based on a county assessment as well as a survey that was presented to the community in February. (Union file photo)
Henry County Public Health is continuing to work on a health improvement plan, based on a county assessment as well as a survey that was presented to the community in February. (Union file photo)

MT. PLEASANT — Henry County Public Health is continuing to work on a three-year health improvement plan based on a community health needs assessment.

The plan will be a collaborative effort between public health, Henry County Health Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and based on the assessment as well as data from a survey of local residents conducted over the month of February.

Kelly Carr, the community outreach coordinator, who is producing the report for the plan, gave an update on the plan to the Board of Health at their meeting on Thursday afternoon. Carr said the three entities determined ten priorities they hope to address with the community across the next three years: mental health, obesity and poor nutrition, access to health care, cancers, infectious disease mitigation, low-income and poverty, underinsured and lack of health insurance, tobacco and nicotine use, substance use and cardiovascular disease.

“Not all of those are identified in the health improvement plan because that’s a lot to take on, but those were all identified as priorities in our county,” Carr said.

For the health improvement plan, specifically, Carr noted mental health, nutrition and cancers were a few that would be addressed.

“With the first priority of mental health, we have a goal to improve access to mental health services, and another goal to improve Henry County residents’ mental health and well-being,” Carr explained.

The community outreach coordinator said the role public health would be playing in addressing that priority would include promoting and educating existing mental health and transportation resources and develop a community outreach activity focused on mental health screening.

Public health would similarly be involved with increasing nutrition education and knowledge of and screening of cancer-causing infections.

During the meeting, Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin also gave an update on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the local community. Van Dorin reported there are currently 80 positive cases in the county and three deaths.

“Things that help us are that we are a smaller community and we don’t have huge amounts of mass transit. We’re not living on top of each other. I think that helps,” Van Dorin said.

The public health director added it’s important to continue encouraging members of the community to take precautions like wearing masks, practicing good hygiene and staying home when feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms.