Local groups work to tackle top county health issues

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In the spring of 2016, the Mineral County Health Department, the Mineral Community Hospital and the Public Health and Safety Division collaborated to identify the most serious health issues facing Mineral County.

A survey was conducted throughout the county and four major areas of concern collected from local residents were substance abuse, unemployment, child abuse and neglect, and obesity.

Since that time, teams from the Mineral County Community Coalition have been working to tackle these areas of concern. In a January report, “Mineral County 2016 CHIP (Community Health Improvement Plan) Goals and Objectives,” outlines plans for each issue.

With substance and alcohol use, the goals are to change the social norms surrounding alcohol and social events, for example, provide alternatives to alcoholic events, and public health campaigns. This includes supporting existing program such as the DUI task force. The plan also includes supporting and implementing curriculum for area youth in and out of school. As well as, supporting after school programs, summer programs, and other alternatives for children. There is also a need for compliance with the sale of alcohol to minors and over-serving drinks to adults at bars and restaurants.

Objectives to meet these goals include offering three non-alcohol related family events between Aug. 2016 and Dec. 2017. As well as implement public health campaigns which includes media such as billboards and brochures.

With unemployment, the goals include working with towns and planning councils to advertise Mineral County as a tourist destination. Also, work on beautification projects with possible grant funding and improve infrastructure projects such as sidewalks, parks, and destination points.

There is also a workforce focus with plans to improve skill-building opportunities which includes workshops and TANIFF volunteer opportunities.

Child abuse and neglect includes goals of training and bringing awareness to staff on how to report cases, trauma training opportunities for school officials and staff, hospital staff, and public health department employees. Also, to increase the number of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) from one to 11 in the county by May 2017.

Another area is on family focus and offering coping mechanism workshops for parents, public health campaigns about abuse and how to report suspicious activity. Also, offer family friendly events to create a supportive environment for parents. There is also a child focus area which will offer education in schools at age appropriate levels designed to empower children to speak up about their own abuse or abuse with others.

The fourth area of concern is obesity and this would include an exercise and nutritional approach. By improving the environment which encourages exercise such as sidewalks and walking trails, and better access to gyms. As well as support existing groups for biking, hiking, running, and walking. To help with nutrition, a goal is to support local farmer’s markets, work with schools on menus and healthy food choices and work with local food pantries on providing nutritional choices. Some other programs include free cooking workshops using fresh vegetables from local farmers, and create a farm-to-table program.

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