Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Health Department Releases Plan to Make Shelby County Healthier

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 7:53 PM


County leaders are trying to make Shelby County one of the healthiest places to live.

On a warm Tuesday afternoon, community leaders from various organizations gathered at the Urban Child Institute to hear about the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) for the all of Shelby County.

The plan identifies five priorities for the county: healthy lifestyles, violence as a public health issue, mental health, as well as two “cross-cutting priorities” that overlap — health disparities and social determinants of health, along with increasing collaboration across the local public health system.

The CHIP has been in the works since 2012 in six phases, facilitated by the Shelby County Health Department. The first and second phases, from December 2012 to March 2013, were set to create the overall vision of the project as well as the conductors, including all facets of the public health sector such as academics, government, nonprofits, healthcare systems, and agencies to create the Community Health Assessment (CHA). From March to August 2013, the CHA focused on compiling the community health status, the needs and wants of the community, the capacities and competencies of the public health system, and trends that factor into the overall quality of life and health to Shelby County.

From the fourth phase on, starting two years ago in September 2013, implementation of the plan has been the focus — mostly mobilizing local organizations and institutions to communicate clearly with one another to tackle the issues.

Community Health planners Amy Collier and Angela Moore, who have been called the “A Team” of the health department, presented the plan and process on Tuesday.

“This is a strategic plan addressing key public health issues,” Moore said. “We had 60 community partners … who have actually committed action items within the CHIP.”

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell also spoke at the event. He talked about changing his own lifestyle into a healthier one and stressing importance of what they called “social determinants of health,” which includes a safe place to live, healthcare access, transportation, social support and norms, and educational access, among others.

Altha J. Stewart, the director of System of Care at the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office, also spoke regarding the public health issues.
“There are multiple ways to cut the pie of social determinants of health,” Stewart said. “One I think is particularly helpful in terms of Shelby County and the discussion around improving overall community health, which has to do with these things: income and social status, social support networks, education and working conditions, social environments, [and] our biology and genetic endowment.”

Child development, particularly involving healthy lifestyles, is also critical in the county to improve the health of Memphians, she said.

“Gender, believe it or not, has a lot to do with how healthy we are or what health issues we face,” Stewart said. “But the real elephant in the room: culture, race, and ethnicity — that’s where people tend to get tripped up because they feel like there’s just so much wrapped up in that. [They believe] it’s too hard to tackle, but it really isn’t.”

The entire CHIP is available to read online from the Shelby County website, or you can read it below.

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