Groups aid public health systems

By Lorna Hart -

MIDDLEPORT — Multiple agencies in Meigs County are coming together with a goal of creating positive changes in the health of Meigs County residents.

The group is using the strategic process Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) to develop their strategy to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Meigs public health systems. MAPP uses a community-based approach to develop a framework that is used to apply a strategic planning process for improving community health, enabling the group to prioritize public health issues and identify resources to address them.

The health department is leading by convening this group, but emphasizes the group belongs to all of the partners and to the county.

“The purpose and overall mission of the group, the health department and other contributing members, is to create positive changes in the health of the Meigs County community,” Courtney Midkiff, Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) explained.

A committee was formed and includes includes Midkiff, Laura Cleland, Aimee Imbrosciano and Leanne Cunningham from the Meigs County Health Department; Norma Torres, Meigs County Cancer Initiative; Chris Shank, Meigs County Department Jobs and Family Services; Brooke Pauley, Family and Children First Council (FCFC); Robin Harris, Gallia, Jackson Meigs Board of Alcohol and Drug Addiction and Mental Health; Deneda Carl, Holzer Health System; Lenora Leifheit, Meigs Cooperative Parish; Dennis Johnson, TASC of Southeast Ohio; and Kay Davis, Meigs CBDD and MRDD/Carleton School.

Ohio University is involved by providing technical assistance and data collection related to the MAPP model and the August session was facilitated by Aimee Collin and Mary Haines from the Ohio University Voinovich School.

Collins and Haines use the Forces of Change Assessment in their facilitate sessions to focuses on identifying factors influencing the health and quality of life of the community.

“What is occurring or might occur that affects the health of our community or the local public health system and what specific threats or opportunities are generated by these occurrences?” is what the sessions seek to answer.

Noting the importance of the initiative, state Sen. Lou Gentile and John Calhoun, who attended on behalf of Rep. Debbie Phillips, were in attendance and participated in the facilitated session.

Issues were given five categories: political, employment, public health, access and environmental. The group added a sixth, hopefulness. Geographic isolation was added to the access category.

The participants split into three groups to discuss threats and opportunities for each of the Forces of Change. Each group was then asked to select the two most important Forces of Change in each category and explain why. A scribe recorded the threats and opportunities for each force, as well as the most important forces and reasons on worksheets. The information will be summarized and included with the other pieces of assessment, aiding the group’s continued MAPP work.

Names were submitted for the group as well. The information gathered at the session along with name suggestions will be discussed at the next meeting on Sept. 17.

The issues of health and access to health care in Meigs County being discussed with this strategic planning approach highlight the importance of of agencies working together. The group’s goal is to increase the health of the county by providing a coordinated and targeted way of delivering health care to the community.

By Lorna Hart