CHIP outlines goals for healthier county

By Sarah Hawley -

Editor’s Note: This article provides an overview of the Community Health Improvement Plan which is a project of the Meigs County Health Department and multiple other agencies. Upcoming articles will detail the results of the assessments, as well as the plan moving forward toward a healthier community.

MEIGS COUNTY — For the past several months representatives from the Meigs County Health Department and many other agencies and organizations have worked together to create a Community Health Improvement Plan for Meigs County.

The CHIP, which was officially endorsed by the commissioners last week, creates a five-year plan to improve the overall health of those in the county and promote healthy living.

Ohio law requires that all local health departments obtain accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board by 2020. Part of that requirement is that heath departments participate in a public health improvement process.

As part of the process, the Meigs County Health Department first contracted with Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs to assist with the initial stages of the MAPP model and the CHA (Community Health Assessment). The health department then contracted wit the University of Rio Grande to continue to MAPP model and public health improvement process to develop and finalize the CHIP. This led to the forming of Get Health Meigs! (GHM!) which meets on a regular basis to focus on promoting healthy living in the county.

The purpose of a CHIP is to provide a community baseline for future health priorities; to identify how to strategically and collaboratively address community health priority areas; to create a living record of a community’s health goals and strategies; and to provide a tool to enable community members to reach their full health potential through assessment, leadership and partnerships.

The primary goals of the health improvement process include, to improve health and quality of life for Meigs County citizens; to increase community health resources; and to lower the costs of health care overall.

The 75-page CHIP document first takes a look at the background of the area covered by the plan, including geography and demographics, before detailing the CHA-CHIP process.

As part of the CHA process feedback was received in seven ways:

  • Key community stakeholder interviews;
  • A community stakeholder meeting was held to identify the community vision related to long-term community health, factors influencing health and barriers to care;
  • A convenience survey to determine environmental factors that influence health, beliefs and attitudes in the community that impact health and access and barriers to care;

  • A focus group to better understand health behaviors and beliefs, ways to improve health in the community and methods to engage and inform the community about the accreditation process;

  • An environmental scan throughout the county to determine economic factors, social functioning, health resources and environmental health;

  • Utilizing existing data from state and national resources related to demographics, physical environment, health indicators, health care shortages and mortality rates;

  • A Forces of Change Assessment which is a component of the MAPP assessment process.

Four assessments were completed in 2015 and early 2016 to provide a comprehensive picture of the county’s health and provide a foundation for identifying key health and and social issues. The assessments included the Community Health Assessment, Community Themes and Strengths Assessment, Forces of Change Assessment, and the Local Public Health System Assessment (seven of 15 organizations asked to participate responded).

These assessments allowed GHM! to outline five priorities — substance abuse, maternal and child health, workforce development, chronic illness and healthy behaviors — which are addressed in the CHIP. These priorities will be outlines in future articles.

By Sarah Hawley