HHS seeking input on community health issues

Subhead: 
Staff Writer
Ken Francis
What are the biggest health issues affecting people in Sherburne County?
 That’s what Sherburne County Health & Human Services (HHS) is hoping to find out from its residents in the upcoming weeks.
Sherburne County HHS just released its Community Health Assessment Plan, which identifies factors that affect the health of a specific population and determines whether that community has the resources to address those factors.
Since the passage of the Local Public Health Act in 1976, Minnesota Community Health Boards (CHB) have been required to engage in a community health improvement process. As part of that process, every Minnesota CHB must submit its 10 most important community health issues to the Minnesota Dept. of Health by Feb. 15, 2015.
Sherburne County HHS began collecting data last year. In February, the county mailed out a community health survey to 7,500 randomly selected households.
There were 44 questions in the survey, some focusing on demographics, income and education levels. But the main focus was different aspects of health.
People were asked about the type and cost of health insurance; availability of health professionals; types of medications;  eating, drinking and smoking habits; exercise; wearing seat belts and an overall feelings of safety in their community. It also asked people to rate the importance of different health issues.
Of the 7,500 surveys mailed out, 1,392 were completed and returned. Last week, Marcia Engvall, Public Health Planner with HHS told members of the county board it was an above-average response compared with other community surveys. She said based on the demographics of those who responded, she believed the group was a good representation of people in the county. 
A team of Sherburne County HHS staff spent several months looking at the data gathered from the survey and identified 10 community health priority areas.
Top 10 Issues
Below are the top 10 health issues, not in order of priority. 
*Adult Alcohol Use/Drinking and Driving - (One-third of Sherburne County adults report binge drinking during the past 30 days);
*Community Mental Health - (Almost half of Sherburne County adults view ‘mental illness’ as a moderate or serious problem);
*Environmental - (Sherburne County is a Zone 1 radon area, at increased risk for high radon levels and a high risk area for tick-borne diseases);
*Emergency Preparedness - (About two-thirds of Sherburne County adults do not have a family emergency plan);
*Financial Stress - (Unemployment rates in Sherburne County doubled from 2006-2010, trending higher than rates in the State of Minnesota);
*Immunization Education - (Over half of Sherburne County adults report not getting immunized against influenza, tetanus, and pertussis);
*Obesity and Obesity-Related Health Trends - (Approximately 22% of Sherburne County ninth graders are overweight and approximately 70% of adults view obesity, lack of physical exercise and unhealthy eating all as moderate or serious problems);
*Parenting Skills - (Approximately 65% of Sherburne County adults view ‘parents with inadequate or poor parenting skills’ as a moderate or serious problem);
*Risky Behaviors in Youth - (Over half of Sherburne County adults view ‘bullying’ as a moderate or serious problem and half of sixth graders report being made fun of or teased in the last 30 days. Adults also report alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and teen pregnancy as problems);
*Un/Underinsured Status - (Over 60% of Sherburne County adults view people without health insurance or medical coverage and people not getting needed care because of inadequate health insurance or high deductibles as moderate or serious problems. Approximately 13% of Sherburne County adults were without insurance in 2010.
Public Feedback
Now that the top 10 health priority areas have been established, HHS wants the public’s input on which should be the top three to five priorities. Three community meetings will be held in different parts of the county to discuss the topics.
“We’ll be presenting those 10 topics, asking questions and getting feedback from community partners,” says Matt Jackson, HHS Community Health Coordinator. “After that we’ll work with community partners. We’re putting a work plan together on how to address whatever those topics might be. It’s kind of a strategic plan with not only our agency, but with others in the community who are doing similar work.”
Meetings are scheduled for April 11 at 11:30 a.m. at the Elk River YMCA, April 29 at 7 p.m. at Big Lake High School Lecture Hall, and June 12 at 4 p.m. at Talahi Elementary Media Center.  
To RSVP or for questions, please contact Matt Jackson at 763-765-4115 or Matt.Jackson@co.sherburne.mn.us.
 

photos


Franklin F. Kemp

TYLER HUVER had fun with playdough at the Big Lake School District Early Childhood open house last month. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

GRAY AREAS indicate counties that are not currently part of an RDC. (Submitted chart.)

SOLDIERS LETTERS. The Minnesota Military Veterans Family Tribute (MFT) project is seeking items of correspondence from Sherburne County veterans from the Civil War through today for possible inclusion on the Story Stone each county will have on the memorial now under construction on the State Capitol Mall in St. Paul. The photo depicts an artist's rendition of the material to be etched on the stones, one for each of the 87 counties in the state.