GUEST VIEW: Health improvement plan is on its way


By Daily News • Last Updated 10:11 am on Thursday, April 05, 2012

Kim Singh

Health is everyone’s business.

Good health is important to us as individuals. For employers, a healthy workforce is productive and costs less. A healthy community is an economically attractive community.

According to 2012 County Health Rankings (www.countyhealthrankings.org), Montcalm County ranks in the bottom third of Michigan counties (62 out of 82 ranked counties) for health factors that influence our health.

Did you know that in Montcalm County 34 percent of adults are obese compared to the national benchmark of 25 percent; 40 percent of  restaurants serve fast food compared to 25 percent national benchmark;  49 percent of residents have some college education compared with the 68 percent national benchmark; and the patient to primary care physician ratio is 3,491 to 1 compared with the national benchmark of 631 to 1?
Healthy Montcalm is a collaborative effort that seeks to improve the health and well-being of Montcalm County residents. The initiative is part of a community health needs assessment and health improvement planning process that began in March 2011. Much of the past year was spent gathering information and feedback about the health status of the community to identify priorities.

Based on county data and input from a community survey that was mailed to 1,500 residents with more than 400 returned, five priority areas have been identified:
• Reduce the prevalence of obesity
• Improve access to care
• Reduce substance abuse
• Address mental health
• Increase awareness of community resources

The Healthy Montcalm initiative is led by the Mid-Michigan District Health Department and includes a community Advisory Committee consisting of more than 40 organizations serving Montcalm County. Health system partners (Carson City Hospital, Sheridan Community Hospital, Spectrum United and Kelsey hospitals and the Montcalm Area Health Center) provide project oversight and direction.

Our vision is that “Montcalm County is an empowered community where people are engaged in leading healthy active lives.”

The community advisory committee will have a health improvement plan completed by early May that identifies potential strategies in each of the five priority areas. The improvement plan will be widely shared throughout the county to increase community awareness of the plan and provide support for implementing recommendations.

Improving the health of our community will take time and hard work, but with a collective vision, an improvement plan and community enthusiasm, we’re off to a good start. A copy of the Montcalm Community Health Profile can be found on the health department website at www.mmdhd.org. Questions can be directed to Kim Singh at ksingh@mmdhd.org.

Kim Singh is a health officer for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department in Stanton.

The opinions expressed in the Guest View do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Daily News.

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