Montcalm County ranks in the bottom third of Michigan counties for health factors that influence people’s health.
In response, the Mid-Michigan District Health Department (MMDHD) has started the Healthy Montcalm Initiative.
Montcalm County ranked 37 out of 82 counties in health outcomes and 67 out of 82 counties in health factors.
Only 82 of the 83 counties were surveyed due to population.
The behavioral, clinical, social and economic factors affect both the quality and length of life, said Kim Singh, health officer at the MMDHD The vision of Healthy Montcalm is to “build a healthier tomorrow.”
“Good health is important to individuals and families,” Singh said.
Singh said a healthier Montcalm County means healthy individuals, communities, environments and a shared vision of what can be achieved together. Through the initiative, MMDHD plans to set a course of action to address the targeted priorities, Singh said.
Health priorities include reduced prevalence of obesity, reduced substance abuse, address mental health, increased awareness of community resources and improved access to care.
Currently, MMDHD officials are working on identifying workable solutions that are measurable, can be realistically achieved and are not cost prohibitive.
“Energy to sustain the initiative is important to its success,” said Singh, adding that she hopes to maintain a collaborative involvement with organizations that are working together on health priorities.
Data for the initiative was collected from multiple sources. Primary data was gathered by surveying county residents and healthcare providers in the fall of 2011. Also, 475 responses were collected from 1,500 surveys that were mailed to randomly selected households in the county.
Singh said a modified survey was distributed to health care providers in Montcalm County and 64 surveys were returned.
“The health issues identified as priorities by both the community and healthcare providers were very similar,” Singh said. “These results can be found in the soon to be released Montcalm Community Profile.”
Secondary data – already available through existing sources – was examined, including Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Michigan Profile for Healthy Young, U.S. Census Bureau and the Michigan Department of Community Health.
So far, Singh said people have reacted positively and expressed interest in the Healthy Montcalm Initiative. She said some people have suggested building from existing efforts and getting involved themselves, while others have showed concern about health issues they see as a problem in Montcalm County.
Residents have been open-minded, positive and embraced the steps to take, said Carson City Hospital accountant Amy McMillan, adding that they are glad to see this health planning initiative.
“All acknowledge this will take time and a collective effort, but feel positive about the possibilities that might result from this collaboration,” Singh said.
McMillan said she hopes residents become aware of the amount of tools and resources available to them that they may not know about.
“If they don’t have health insurance, they still have options that they can act on to make a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their family,” McMillan said.
Singh said she would like to see willingness by residents to get involved once an implementation plan is developed, “making a personal commitment to join forces to make Montcalm healthier.”
Although the initiative began in March and is set to end in April, it’s a process that will be ongoing.
Healthy Montcalm is comprised of the following:
The Steering Committee
• Carson City Hospital
• Sheridan Community Hospital
• Spectrum Health United Hospital and Kelsey Hospital
• Mid-Michigan District Health Department
• Montcalm Area Health Center
• Montcalm Community College
The Advisory Committee
• More than 40 organizations within Montcalm County, including businesses, government, education, faith-based, healthcare and volunteers.
Health factors in Montcalm County
• 68 percent of the county’s adult population is overweight.
• 11 percent of the county’s adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
Access to Care
• 17.2 percent of the county’s adults have no personal doctor or healthcare provider.
• 16.7 percent of the county’s adults reported there was a time in the past year when they needed to see a doctor but could not.
• A community survey showed people are not fully aware or informed of the following issues:
o Elder abuse
o Sexually transmitted diseases
• 28 percent of the county’s students reported consuming alcohol with the past 30 days.
• 17 percent of the county’s students reported smoking cigarettes within the past 30 days.
o Montcalm County Alzheimer’s disease mortality rates have increased 39 percent over the past decade.
o Montcalm County suicide rates have increase 29 percent over the past decade.