When the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, released its annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Report last year, Champaign County was ranked 46th out of 88 Ohio counties. Unsatisfied with the results, the Champaign Health District and Community Mercy Health Partners quickly went to work to collect data for the county’s next Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) due out later this year.
“I would love to do a lot better than our 46th ranking, and I think we can,” Champaign County Health Commissioner Jeff Webb said.
Earlier this month, the health district and Community Mercy Health Partners invited community leaders to discuss the results of the recently completed Community Health Assessment (CHA) and Group Evaluation, referred to collectively as the CHANGE tool, and to form task forces aimed at developing strategies to improve the county’s overall health through the 2016 CHIP.
Webb said after looking over the results of the CHANGE tool, compiled by Gabe Jones, the county’s epidemiologist, it was decided task forces were needed to study the following four areas of concern when it comes to the overall health of the county: healthy living (exercise and nutrition), mental health, substance abuse and young child wellness.
“These task forces are tasked with meeting together to develop goals and what we call SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) objectives for dealing with these particular health issues here in the county,” Webb said. “For example, we might have an objective that is measurable, but it might not be achievable or realistic.”
Webb, who is part of the task force on healthy living, said any individual living within the county who would like to be part of one of the four task force groups, is invited to participate by calling the Champaign Health District at 937-484-1606.
The plan, Webb said, is for all the task forces to meet again toward the end of March.
“When we meet, the hope is that the task forces will have identified their SMART objectives to improve our health status and, from that, we will then develop our formal Community Health Improvement Plan.
Results of CHA
During a Feb. 3 meeting of the task force groups, Jones presented each group with group-specific data collected during the CHA, which was compiled in late 2015 through a youth survey (conducted in all county school districts except Graham), an adult survey (sent to county households by Mercy Memorial Hospital), and secondary data (birth data, death data, hospital data and cancer morbidity trends) collected by Jones.
The CHA data presented to the healthy living task force shows that 73.6 percent of the adults in the county who were surveyed are overweight or obese, while 46.7 percent have high blood pressure and 46.1 percent have high cholesterol. The youth study revealed 28.4 percent of middle schoolers and 40.3 percent of high schoolers are overweight or obese.
When asked to detail their physical activity, 38.9 percent of middle schoolers said that within the past week, they took part in physical activity for at least 60 minutes on fewer than five of those days, and 45.8 percent of these students said they used a computer or gaming system for something other than school work for three or more hours per day.
At the high school level, 36.1 percent failed to take part in 60 minutes of physical activity for more than five days during the previous week and 48.1 percent used a computer three or more hours per day.
In terms of mental health, the CHA data revealed that 28.8 percent of county middle schoolers and 20 percent of high schoolers surveyed said they have seriously considered attempting suicide, while 11.9 percent of middle schoolers and 14.1 percent of high schoolers said they have attempted suicide at least once.
The CHA data provided to the substance abuse task force shows that 8.8 percent of adults surveyed binge drink (consume five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion), while 28.4 percent of middle schoolers said they have had at least one drink of alcohol. At the high school level, 22.9 percent of the students surveyed said they had at least one drink of alcohol on at least one day in the past 30 days.
As for tobacco use, 19.1 percent of adults said they are current smokers, while 17.6 percent of middle schoolers surveyed admitted to having tried smoking a cigarette. The percentage of high schoolers who said they have smoked more than 10 cigarettes in a day was 13.1 percent.
The task force assigned to develop SMART objectives for addressing young child wellness issues was presented with CHA data showing that 33.5 percent of middle schoolers described themselves as slightly or very overweight, while 12.8 percent were classified as being obese.
Additional data showed 19.8 percent of middle schoolers went without eating for 24 hours or more to lose weight within the past 30 days, while 30 percent reported they watch more than three hours of television per day.
“The hope is this data will help the task forces develop goals and strategies for addressing these health issues within our community,” Webb said. “It will help us then create our Community Health Improvement Plan, which will be a collaborative approach involving more than just one agency.
“Once we come to an agreement, we can formalize our Community Health Improvement Plan,” he added.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.