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FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH Division of Public Health Statistics & Performance Management

CHARTS Community Spotlight

Florida Department of Health Recognizes 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champions

Florida Department of Health Recognizes 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champions
Florida Department of Health Recognizes 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champions

Recently, the Florida Department of Health recognized 98 communities as the 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champions. Florida’s county and municipal governments play an important role in decreasing the prevalence of unhealthy weight in their jurisdictions. Local governments can implement a variety of policies that have been shown to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. These best practice policies are reflected in the Healthy Weight Community Champion submission criteria. Between August and December 2016, local governments were invited to submit best practices they have implemented in their jurisdictions.

“I am pleased that the department is able to recognize the tremendous work these local governments have done to improve the health of their residents” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. “Their efforts to implement policies that empower residents and visitors to improve their health are an important part of creating healthy environments throughout Florida.”

The Community Champions program is part of the department’s Healthiest Weight Florida initiative. Healthiest Weight Florida is a public-private collaboration bringing together state agencies, local governments, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations and entire communities to help Florida’s children and adults make consistent, informed choices about healthy eating and active living.

The 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champions are listed below by region. Click on the corresponding region to read that region’s press release: Panhandle Capital NorthEast North Central Central West Central SouthWest South SouthEast
Learn More

Heart Health+ Launches in 17 Counties

Heart Health+ Launches in 17 Counties

Heart Health+ aims to prevent heart disease in the communities that need it the most. Launched November 2016, this pilot program implements evidence-based strategies to affect faith based organizations, health systems and local communities. Participating counties were selected by analyzing heart disease, smoking, cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors in each of Florida’s 67 counties to identify where there were greatest needs for heart disease prevention programs. Calhoun, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gadsden, Gulf, Hendry, Holmes, Jefferson, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Putnam, Taylor, Union and Washington Counties are now implementing either “Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring & Tobacco Cessation”, “Hypertension Control Champions” or “100 Congregations for Million Hearts”. All strategies incorporate referring participants to Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way Programs, Diabetes Prevention Programs and Diabetes Self-Management Education Programs, as needed. For more information, contact cdprevention@flhealth.gov.

Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring & Tobacco Cessation This strategy involves implementing a Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program in partnership with the local Tobacco Free Florida Quit Counselor and incorporating tobacco cessation messages. Blood Pressure self-monitoring is the regular measurement of blood pressure by the patient outside of the clinical setting, either at home or elsewhere. It requires the use of a home blood pressure measurement device by the patient to measure blood pressure at different points in time. This, along with clinical support, has been proven to improve access to care while making blood pressure control more convenient and accessible across the population.

Hypertension Control Champions .Hypertension Control Challenge is a competition to identify practices, clinicians and health systems that have worked with their patients to achieve hypertension control rates at or above 70% through innovations in health information technology and electronic health records, patient communication, and health care team approaches. Counties selecting this strategy are working towards being recognized as Hypertension Control Champions by implementing standardized protocols for controlling high blood pressure in adults and for tobacco cessation to serve as clinical decision support at the point of care so no opportunities are missed to achieve control. They also assist with either reporting on the Million Hearts® clinical quality measures or implementing the Diagnosing the Undiagnosed toolkit.

100 Congregations for Million Hearts Million Hearts® is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The goal of 100 Congregations is to enlist the support of faith based organizations to help raise awareness about risks for heart disease and stroke and educate individuals about prevention, including a focus on high blood pressure control. Counties selecting this strategy are partnering with at least two local faith-based organizations and assisting them with joining 100 congregations for Million Hearts. They assist with developing pulpit and other leadership messages about heart health and diabetes awareness. They also work with the organizations to host two community events per organization which focus on heart disease prevention.

We have a new name: FLHealthCHARTS.com

We have a new name: FlHealthCHARTS.com

Update your bookmark to our new URL: http://www.FLHealthCHARTS.com. We celebrate 2017 and the launch of our updated website with a new look that embraces Florida Department of Health branding. Twelve years ago, we founded this site, and we continue our commitment to providing the most up-to-date health statistics you’ll find in Florida. Each month, over 24,000 visitors generate over 1 million hits to the 3,500 health indicators, 19 health profile reports and 10 query systems in FLHealthCHARTS.

Dixie Residents "Take to the trail" for Good Health

Dixie residents take to the trail for good health

On Saturday October 15, 2016, Dixie County residents participated in the second annual "Fall Into Fitness" 5K walk and run event. There were over 30 participants who participated in the walk/run/bike event, including Dixie, Gilchrist, and Levy's health officer, Barbara Locke. After finishing the 5k, participants and staff joined other community partners at the 4th annual Fire Expo being held across the street at the Dixie County EOC. FDOH-Dixie had a booth set up at the Fire Expo, where over 400 participants had the opportunity to learn about Hands-ONLY CPR and the importance of car seat safety. Dixie County third grade student participated in a poster contest describing "What does health mean to me?"

DOH-Miami-Dade joined Miami-Dade College in celebrating World Heart Day

DOH-Miami-Dade joined Miami-Dade College during a Heart Fair in celebration of World Heart Day. The event was a great success as over 300 members of the community were screened and numerous workshops were hosted registering nearly 900 participants. This event provided an excellent opportunity to share the abundance of local and statewide resources available to the community.

'Safety Heather' Brings Education and Resources to Charlotte County Caregivers

DOH-Charlotte's Injury Prevention Coordinator, Heather Boyd, recently established a local Safe Kids chapter in Charlotte County, and has utilized this new partnership to reach over 1,000 caregivers in the area with safety information. Boyd obtained a Safe Kids Worldwide Medication Safety Grant that provided pill pods (medication lock boxes), cabinet locks and educational information for distribution to those living with young children. DOH-Charlotte and Safe Kids have been partnering with the local drug free community coalitions and the Poison Center of Tampa to reach an even larger audience with safety messaging.

DOH-Monroe Goes Door-to-Door for Zika Virus Outreach and Education

​Community partners of the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County engaged in a door-to-door Zika Community Outreach and Education event on Wednesday, August 10. Thirty five volunteers showed up at the Gato Building in Key West for the event from the following agencies: the Department of Health, Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, the US Coast Guard, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Naval Branch Health Clinic, Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the Medical Reserve Corp, Monroe County Extension Service, and Florida Keys Community College. Volunteers hung information in the form of door hangers and spoke to residents and visitors about mosquito bite prevention and the importance of draining standing water. Volunteers were split up into teams and assigned sections of Key West to provide education on this important public health issue. The department has also launched a Joint Information Center regarding Zika with the aforementioned community partners. Monroe County Board of County Commissioners have secured a community partners resource page: Zapzika.net, which will launch on Friday.

Sarasota County first in Florida to Receive the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Age-Friendly Community Designation

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) continually uses data to assess the health status of the community. One-third of Sarasota County’s population is over 65 years of age with a projected influx of aging baby boomers who will make Sarasota County their home over the next several years. This presents some unique challenges and opportunities for a community committed to helping ensure that everyone across the lifespan has the same chance to be healthy and enjoy optimum quality of life.

“These are big issues that have far-reaching implications in terms of creating a supportive environment and policy initiatives to enhance livability for aging residents. One of Sarasota County’s strengths is the community collaborations that are in place to address an array of issues including aging,” says DOH-Sarasota Health Officer Chuck Henry.

To address the needs of the county’s aging population, DOH-Sarasota has teamed up with AARP Florida, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at the University of South Florida, Sarasota County Government, and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee to achieve the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Age-friendly Community designation. Age-Friendly Sarasota is supported by The Patterson Foundation, a fully endowed charitable foundation in Sarasota.

The initial phase of Age-Friendly Sarasota included the assessment of the community’s age-friendly assets and aspirations of residents 50 years of age and older. Nearly 1,200 residents participated in surveys and focus groups that were conducted throughout the county, representing every geographic area by zip code. Initial findings revealed the collective importance of many age-friendly features of community life as well as distinct differences by age groups. Subsequent steps will include the development of a 3-year county-wide plan of action based on assessment findings, monitoring progress of the plan, and reporting to the WHO.

Seminole County Men Take the Challenge!

On June 4, DOH-Seminole hosted the 2nd Annual William J. Jett Men's Health Challenge at the Sanford Health Office in recognition of Men's Health Month. More than 30 vendors were present to educate attendees about a variety of health topics. Several attendees won giveaways such as a signed Orlando Magic Jersey and a 40-inch television! DOH-Seminole established the Office of Men's Health in 2014 to improve and inspire change in Seminole County men's health outcomes.

DOH-Citrus Encourages Good Health Habits

The DOH-Citrus County Healthiest Weight Team recognized KoalaTee Academy, after receiving the Let's Move! Recognition. The Let's Move! Initiative help kids build good habits by ensuring the program is a healthy environment for children to learn. Citrus County now has three recognized childcares on the map. The academy received a Fit Kids Kit that included footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, jump ropes and chalk with hopscotch diagram and instructions. Visit DOH Citrus County http://citrus.floridahealth.gov/index.html

Leon County Partners Conduct Community Health Assessment

DOH-Leon is conducting their 2016 Community Health Assessment with lead partners Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare and The United Way of the Big Bend. The purpose of the assessment is to mobilize residents in setting health priorities and improvement strategies to address them. From start to finish, DOH-Leon is ensuring that the needs of the community are identified.

DOH-Leon, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and 25 community partners initially came together to discuss what this process should look like. Because understanding the community is at the heart of improving public health, all perspectives were important. With this aim, disadvantaged residents were included in a health assessment process that involved them in every step: planning, data collection, evaluation, identification of health issues and community strengths.

Households from specific census blocks then were sampled to complete a survey addressing various health topics, including personal and family health, children’s concerns, mental health, access to care and environmental health. “This is what public health is all about. I’m glad I volunteered to conduct the surveys,” said Krystal Williams, FAMU-IPH Student Intern/Volunteer. The health surveys were recently completed. The next step is to evaluate the results with the community. Five open-community forums will be held in the surveyed neighborhoods to share survey results and discuss health priorities for focused improvement efforts.

If you wish to follow the results, please contact Brandi Knight, Community Health Assessment Coordinator at 850-606-8169 or Brandi.Knight@flhealth.gov

DOH-Marion Launches Community Garden with Local Partners

When staff from the Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) were looking at options for increasing the percentage of adults at a healthy weight (a focus of their community health improvement plan), they were struck by the correlation between the lack of access to healthy food and high burdens of chronic disease, unhealthy weight and poverty. They went door-to-door in one such area – West Ocala – to better understand why people could not access healthy food. They discovered that the only sources of food for many were fast food and corner stores. Residents said that they did not have transportation to grocery stores. DOH-Marion staff marshaled their community partners to envision and implement a creative strategy.

“Proposing a community garden in a food desert just made sense,” said Meaghan Crowley, Health Education Program Manager at DOH-Marion. “Particularly when there is strong community interest in creating access to healthy, affordable food. We believed in our idea, but the outpouring of support from community members and partners was overwhelming.”

In the West Ocala neighborhood – the Marion County community with the highest poverty and chronic disease burden – a partner donated land next to a highly visible area near a church and the largest housing project in a tight-knit community. The church and the housing project agreed to promote the community garden to parishioners and residents. As a result of their planning and promotion, over 150 volunteers came the first day. In the first hour, all the beds were taken and by the end of the first day, 14 people were on the waiting list. DOH-Marion staff rethought their three-year plan to build 25 beds per year and instead decided to build 50 beds the first year.

Community partners donated seeds and starter plants, tools, lumber and volunteer hours. Partners include the neighborhood revitalization council, faith-based organizations, police, housing units, the City of Ocala, Ocala Recreation and Parks Department, Marion County Extension Service, Florida Master Gardeners, Marion County Children’s Alliance, Heart of Florida Health Centers and Feed the Need Garden. Organizations donating materials and volunteer hours included Home Depot, Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, Sparr Building and Farm Supply and Belleview Contracting Corp.

DOH-Marion staff realized that to fully leverage the benefit of the community gardens they and their partners needed to plan for sustainability and provide workshops about gardening and composting, cooking healthy meals, and general health and wellness. They are currently exploring options to expand community gardens to other parts of the county.

Community gardens are an evidence-based strategy to provide healthy food to residents and much more: they promote physical activity, engage the community, and educate residents about benefits of increasing fruits and vegetables in their diets and about healthy cooking, all of which ultimately promotes healthy weight.

For more information on the project, contact Meaghan Crowley at Meaghan.Crowley@flhealth.gov or the West Ocala Wellness Community Garden Facebook page.

Gulf and Franklin Counties Tackling Childhood Obesity

Gulf and Franklin Counties Tackling Childhood Obesity

In the past thirty years, the number of children at an unhealthy weight has doubled in the US while the prevalence among adolescents has quadrupled. Unhealthy weight in children increases the likelihood of unhealthy weight in adulthood. This can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer.

The Department of Health in Gulf and Franklin Counties (DOH-Gulf/Franklin) is tackling this challenge through the Early Childcare Education project. Community health improvement partners proposed this directive and it is part of the DOH-Gulf/Franklin Healthiest Weight Florida work plan. Partners include local Head Start programs, Healthy Families, Healthy Start, Closing the Gap, and school representatives.

"When we started, we didn’t know how much was already being done by our licensed childcare facilities in response to unhealthy weight in children," says Sarah Hinds, DOH- Gulf/Franklin Operations Manager and Management Consultant. "The Early Childcare Education subcommittee members are committed to helping these providers receive recognition for their great work."

Let’s Move! Child Care (LMCC) encourages and supports child care and early education providers to make positive changes in their programs in order to work toward a healthier future for children. LMCC offers resources and tools to assist child care and preschool providers help children make healthy choices. Best practices are outlined in five healthy goal areas: nurturing healthy eaters, providing healthy beverages, increasing physical activity, limiting screen time and supporting breastfeeding.

Collaborating with community partners and residents, DOH-Gulf/Franklin holds monthly community health improvement partner meetings. Addressing overweight and obesity statistics among youth is a priority for both counties. A special subcommittee is tracking progress and during the month of February they met with each licensed organization to complete the registration process.

DOH-Gulf/Franklin is listening to their community and taking action on this important community health issue. By engaging with community partners and residents, DOH-Gulf/Franklin is building the capacity for long-term prevention.

September is Take a Loved One to the Doctor Month

September is Take a Loved One to the Doctor Month

The Office of Minority Health is urging all Floridians to take charge of their health and encourage their loved ones to seek healthcare in honor of Take a Loved One to the Doctor. Initially launched by Tom Joyner and the US Department of Health & Human Services, this campaign specifically aims to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations as well as the elderly, underserved and underrepresented communities. The Department urges all Floridians to focus on prevention and early detection.

Take a Loved One to the Doctor Month stresses the importance of getting regular checkups from healthcare professional to aid in the elimination of healthcare disparities. Minorities suffer disproportionately from cancer, stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and maternal and infant mortality.

During the month of September we want to highlight the importance of working together to protect our loved ones from these and other disparities in healthcare. This campaign is an annual initiative to remind all Floridians to take charge of their health by visiting a health professional (a doctor, a nurse, a dentist, a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant or another health provider). The focus of the campaign is to encourage individuals to make an appointment to see a physician, attend a health event in the community, or help a friend, neighbor or family member do the same in the month of September or the months ahead.

Healthiest Weight Initiative Launches in Florida

Healthiest Weight Initiative Launches in Florida

Why is healthy weight a priority for the Department of Health?

As we survey the health landscape, we see the #1 public health threat that challenges the bright future of Florida: weight. Currently, only 35% of Floridians are at healthy weight. One quarter are obese, and the rest are overweight. On our current trend, by 2030, almost 60% will be obese.

The costs of care for chronic diseases from obesity alone—diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and arthritis—are unsustainable, estimated to be $34B over the next 17 years.

Over the next 20 years in Florida, obesity could contribute to: 2,442,415 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 6,188,174 new cases of heart disease and stroke, 5,261,978 new cases of hypertension, 3,266,082 new cases of arthritis, and 869,214 new cases of obesity-related cancer.

What is involved with Healthiest Weight Florida?

Healthiest Weight Florida was launched in Orlando at the State Surgeon General's Symposium on Healthiest Weight in January 2013. A summary video of the event is available here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA5EaGCHTzI. Through the initiative, the Department of Health is building collaborations and providing assistance to counties, community groups and other partners to implement programs that focus on:

  • Increasing the initiation, duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding.
  • Promoting improved nutrition and physical activity in early care and education.
  • Ensuring that all foods and beverages served and sold in schools meet or exceed the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Increasing the physical activity for students during the school day and after school programs.
  • Increasing access to high-quality, affordable foods in communities.
  • Increasing physical activity by improving the built environment in communities.
  • Promoting health professional awareness and counseling of patient body mass index (BMI).

By bending the projected BMI (Body Mass Index) curve by just 5% from the current trajectory, hundreds of thousands of new cases of chronic disease can be prevented while saving millions in healthcare costs.

Additional Resources

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Report: Bending the Obesity Cost Curve in Florida (PDF)

Institute of Medicine Report: Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention

National Men's Health Week

National Men's Health Week

National Men's Health Week is celebrated each year the week leading up to and including Father's Day, which is June 10-16, 2013. During this week, individuals, families, communities, and others work to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems, promote healthy living, and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Lead by example. Be smoke-free, prevent injuries, and eat healthy. Find more information at the following resources:

Men's Health at the Mayo Clinic

Men's health at CDC

Use the Change Groupings feature in FloridaCHARTS.com viewer windows to compare health statistics for men and women: All External Causes Deaths

May is Stroke Awareness Month

May is Stroke Awareness Month

A stroke occurs when either a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Stroke is a leading causes of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death in Florida. According to the CDC, at least one in every eight stroke survivors will have another stroke within five years. In Florida, non-Hispanic blacks are 2 times more likely than Hispanics to die from a stroke. To learn more about strokes, check out our Stroke factsheet, our DOH Stroke Prevention Program http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/stroke/index.html or the CDC Stroke website http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/

April is Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month

April is Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), are infections that are passed from person to person through intimate sexual contact. These infections include Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and many others. In 2011 there were nearly 100,000 cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis were reported (99,868) in Florida. To find out more about STIs, visit the Florida Department of Health or the CDC.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

A Colorectal cancer, commonly known as colon cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Although the exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, risk factors include age, personal history, family history, diet, exercise, and smoking. A healthy life style and regular screening are the keys to reducing this common cancer.

In Florida and the U.S., colorectal cancer incidence has been declining. In 2001, Florida incidence rates dipped below those of the U.S. Screening rates have been increasing but are still much lower than other cancers that are detected by screening, e.g., breast and cervical. Since 2002, Floridians have had a slightly higher rate of sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy screening in their lifetime than the U.S. average. In 2010, 60-70% of those aged 50 and older, regardless of race or ethnicity, have had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy in their lifetime.

Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions Data Now Available

Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions Data Now Available

Ambulatory Care Sensitive conditions such as asthma, diabetes or dehydration are hospitalization conditions where timely and effective ambulatory care can decrease hospitalizations by preventing the onset of an illness or condition, controlling an acute episode of an illness or managing a chronic disease or condition. High rates of Ambulatory Care Sensitive hospitalizations in a community may be an indicator of a lack of or failure of prevention efforts, a primary care resource shortage, poor performance of primary health care delivery systems, or other factors that create barriers to obtaining timely and effective care. Data for these conditions is now available on FLHealthCHARTS. More Information

How Healthy Is Your Heart?

How Healthy Is Your Heart?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by hardening of the arteries, the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CHD is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death in Florida (view our CHD Health Brief and CHD mortality data). Many risk factors are attributable to CHD. Preventable risk factors include diabetes, substance abuse, overweight and obesity, inactivity, and narrowed arteries in other parts of the body. Non-preventable risk factors include aging, genetics, race, and biological sex. While men are more likely to develop CHD, the risk among post-menopausal women is similar to that of men.

It's Flu Season!

It's Flu Season!

One of the best ways to keep from getting the flu is by getting a yearly influenza vaccination. Vaccination is especially important in adults age 65 and older because of their increased risk of severe illness. Overall, in 2010, only 65.5% of Floridians 65+ had received their flu shot in the past year. White Floridians and those who had a college degree were more likely than their counterparts to have received their flu shot.

For more information on Florida's flu vaccination trends and statistics, click here. The Florida Department of Health issued a press release earlier this month encouraging Floridians to get their flu vaccinations and offering preventative steps to take against the flu. For more information on how to protect yourself from influenza, please visit the CDC seasonal influenza webpage.

Palm Beach County Community Health Assessment

In 2012, the Palm Beach County Health Department engaged the Health Council of Southeast Florida to facilitate a comprehensive, county-wide health assessment. Participants included a cross section of health and human service organizations, community leaders and stakeholders who came together around the commitment to improve services. The assessment gave them the opportunity to assess the population's health status, highlight areas of unmet need, present the community's perspectives, provide suggestions for possible interventions, highlight recommendations that policymakers might consider when setting new policy goals and objectives for health improvement activities and fulfill a prerequisite towards public health accreditation. The assessment report is available online. http://www.pbchd.com/community-health-assessment/. The data and information in the CHA was used to develop a Community Health Improvement Plan (again facilitated by the Health Council), and the community team is moving forward by developing action plans and engaging with other groups in the community. A brief video is also available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3alvhCZH3PA&feature=youtu.be

Population Estimates on FLHealthCHARTS

The population data for 2001-2010, along with rates affected by the population data, has been updated on FLHealthCHARTS. Following a census, it is customary to revise population projections for the intercensal years based on information from the latest census. Revising the population data from what was predicted to actual estimates ensures accurate accounting of the racial, ethnic, and gender distribution of the population. These changes affect the population data and rates calculated for your community.

2012: State of Hispanic Health in Duval County

Members of the Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council for the Duval County Health Department came to realize that they needed more detailed information on a rapidly growing Hispanic population in order to understand and address their unique health needs. Duval County's Hispanic population more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, and is about 8% of the population of Duval County and the county's second largest minority group. The Advisory Council turned to FLHealthCHARTS and other data sources and their exploration ultimately led to the release of the inaugural report: 2012: State of Hispanic Health in Duval County.

The report has galvanized the community. After the well-attended release event in June, the Advisory Council members formed subcommittees based on the findings. Each subcommittee will create an action plan based on available community resources with an eye toward bringing more local groups and organizations to the table. Seeing the actual data was “eye-opening” for many, said Advisory Council Chair Annie Rodriquez, and allowed them to “begin the conversation” about how to meet the health needs of Hispanics in Duval. Rodriquez pointed out that addressing health disparities is cost effective and ultimately “benefits everyone's health.”

State Health Improvement Plan

Under the leadership of the state Surgeon General, a diverse group of partners in Florida who have an interest in and impact on improving the health of the state's residents and visitors were tasked to create a blueprint for action. Their work, culminating in this State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), identifies high-impact strategic issues and desired health and public health system outcomes to be achieved by 2015. The SHIP reflects a commitment of partners and stakeholders to collaborate in addressing shared issues in a systematic and accountable way.

Florida's State Health Assessment

http://www.floridahealth.gov/about-the-department-of-health/state-and-community-health-assessment/State-Health-Assmt/index.html

Florida and its health partners have conducted a comprehensive health assessment. Culminating in the State Health Assessment, a comprehensive perspective of Florida's health status, resources, strengths and opportunities for improvement is presented. This document, the first of its kind in our state. Subject matter experts from across a diverse group of partners conducted the four types of assessments found in the report. Individually, each assessment yields an in-depth analysis of factors and forces that impact population health. The four assessments taken together contribute to a comprehensive view of health and quality of life in Florida and constitute Florida's State Health Assessment report. Because it provides essential information for discussion, prioritization and action, a state health assessment process is the foundation for improving and promoting the health of Florida's residents.

Indian River Community Health Assessment

Indian River Community Health Assessment

In May of 2012, the Indian River County Health Department released a community health assessment, a systematic way of collecting and analyzing data to understand the health of a community. The health department contracted with the Health Council of Southeast Florida to conduct the assessment. The assessment covers the demographic and socioeconomic profile of residents, a health status profile, health resource access and availability profile, a community perspective, and key issues and recommendations. After the release of the community health assessment, a Community Health Advisory Council, whose members represent 31 diverse groups, including health care, social services and other sectors of the community, reviewed the Community Health Assessment along with an Environmental Health Assessment, prioritized the issues raised, identified the root causes and created an improvement plan to address the priorities.

According to Miranda Hawker, administrator of Indian River Health Department, "We were fortunate to have a diverse group of community stakeholders that were dedicated throughout the entire process and provided excellent guidance and input. We are in the process of finalizing our plan at this time, and look forward to implementation."

The assessment report is available online at http://www.myirchd.com/IRCNeedsAssessment.pdf

Monroe County Health Status Assessment

Monroe County Health Status Assessment

In The Monroe County Health Department released its Health Status Assessment and Profile Report in 2012. The assessment indicates that the overall health of Monroe County's residents is good in spite of its rural isolation, low ratio of service providers, and high risk behavior patterns. According to Administrator Bob Eadie, the assessment has helped the community better understand its health issues. "We know that our county was an epicenter during the AIDS epidemic, but now see HIV infected people living with AIDS productively, rather than dying of AIDS regularly." Eadie added that the assessment has pointed county partners to looking more closely at the social determinants of health, such as social instability and high risk behaviors, and helped them focus on improving screening rates for the top four killers: lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.

According to Eadie, "Moving forward, we will use the findings of this assessment to highlight the relationship between health status and the determinants of health, unite communities around issues, and motivate leaders to address those issues."

The assessment covers population characteristics, quality of life, health care resources, socio-economics and socio-demographics, injuries, violence and community safety, mortality and morbidity (chronic diseases and reportable and infectious diseases), infants, children and youth, and senior health.

The report is available online at: Click Here

Marion County Partners with United Way to Implement Community Health Improvement Plan

Marion County Partners with United Way to Implement Community Health Improvement Plan

The Marion County Community Health Improvement Plan Steering Committee, representing a diverse team of stakeholders from 12 health and other community organizations, recently completed the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and presented it to a small audience of community leaders. The plan sets goals to improve the health of Marion County residents and identifies strategies and specific objectives to help reach those goals. The team discovered that social determinants of health appeared to be the root causes for most of Marion County's negative health outcomes.

Because the CHIP addresses the issues that the United Way of Marion County is also focusing on, the United Way leadership has adopted the CHIP and has committed to take the lead in implementing it. United Way leaders presented the plan to the Education, Health and Finance Councils of the United Way and the plan was the major focus of the United Way Annual Meeting in March.

Such community collaboration is the cornerstone of effective health improvement planning. According to Dr. Nathan Grossman, Marion County Health Department director, “This isn't just a Health Department project. No single organization owns this — the entire community owns this. Transforming the health of the residents of Marion County will happen as the entire community realizes that health is more than just health care.”

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County is working with the United Way's councils to develop specific activities for the coming year.

The Marion County CHIP is available online at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/chdMarion/adobe_files/chip.pdf.

Big Bend Better Living Collaborates to Improve Health in the Florida Panhandle

Big Bend Better Living Collaborates to Improve Health in the Florida Panhandle

Big Bend Better Living is a regional healthy eating, active living campaign formed out of a collaboration between eight North Florida County Health Departments: Gulf, Franklin, Wakulla, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor. As staff from each county health department developed their community health assessments, they discovered similarities regarding obesity-related illness and lack of exercise and healthy eating. They realized that if they collaborated to educate the populations they serve about these health issues they would be more efficient and effective. This led to the development of the website bigbendbetterliving.org, public service announcements, and educational brochures and posters for community outreach.

One particularly innovative way the collaborative chose to educate their residents about the most important health issues and trends was to develop a short and accessible brochure for each county to be passed out to residents (go to http://www.bigbendbetterliving.org/_pdfs/profiles/Madison%20County.pdf for an example of the Madison CHD brochure).

In Madison and Jefferson counties, CHD staff and their partners realized that using Big Bend Better Living resources to educate people about preventing chronic disease raised the health department's visibility and strengthened their position as catalysts for change. While they distributed the materials at youth lock-ins, faith-based health events, farmers markets and music festivals, they established connections and built partnerships with people and organizations working towards similar goals.

According to Kimberly Allbritton, Interim Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Jefferson and Madison counties, "It just made financial sense to pool our resources because all the CHDs in the big bend area serve populations with similar health problems and we were all interested in education and establishing relationships that could sustain our work. The next step for Madison and Jefferson CHDs will be focusing on encouraging healthy behaviors in our youth population."

Community Group Focuses on Obesity

Community Group Focuses on Obesity

Photo from a free monthly fitness event in a local park in Polk County
When members of Polk Vision—a broad, community-led partnership of organizations, businesses, government and individuals—reviewed the Florida Department of Health Polk County's report of findings on their community health assessment (much of it based on FLHealthCHARTS data), they realized that obesity contributes to the chronic diseases that are the major causes of death and preventable hospital stays for residents in their county.

As a result, Building a Healthier Polk—a diverse group of community partners brought together by Polk Vision—was created with the goal of reducing obesity to improve health in their community. The effort began with a community forum with over 70 community stakeholders where they set the goal of reducing the obesity rate in Polk County to less than the state average (from 37.6% to 27.2%). They formed workgroups around each of six strategic areas: school based, neighborhood/community based, primary care physicians, worksite based, higher education, and communication.

Since then, workgroup members have been busy gaining more community enthusiasm and support, gathering more data, partnering with new agencies, and implementing the strategies in their health improvement plan. They had a quick victory in gaining resolutions or proclamations from the Board of County Commissioners, the Polk County School Board and the two largest cities in Polk in support of the Initiative. They are currently surveying primary care providers, employers and institutions of higher education to gather more baseline data. Each group meets monthly to work on action plans and discuss progress.

"There are already a lot of great things happening in Polk County to address obesity. We are working to highlight what is already happening, and to create and promote new opportunities in the community" says Sara Roberts, Executive Director of Polk Vision, Inc.

The Building a Healthier Polk plan is available online at http://www.mypolkhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/PolkCHIP2012.pdf

Osceola County Community Health Assessment

Osceola County Community Health Assessment

From 2010 through 2012, the Osceola Health Leadership Council led the development of a comprehensive, county-wide community health assessment. Over 75 health care professionals, government leaders, non-profit leaders, service providers, business owners, faith-based organizations, grass-roots leaders, and citizens of Osceola County came together at the Osceola Summit on Health in 2010 and 2011 to contribute to the community health assessment process, a process designed to systematically collect, analyze and use data to identify priority areas for health improvement efforts. They looked at health data from a variety of sources, including Florida CHARTS and the results of opinion surveys conducted door-to-door and at various health fairs and community events.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Osceola County Administrator Belinda Johnson-Cornett, the community health assessment is the foundation for improving community health. “We needed to understand what the health problems were in the community, why they existed, the social, economic and cultural contexts that produced them, and what resources we had before we could move on to addressing them.” Staff at the Florida Department of Health, Osceola County have participated in three iterations of a community-led health assessment and planning process. As the health conditions in the community change, the health system partners need to be able to revise their strategies to address them. Based on this community health assessment process, the Osceola Health Leadership Council identified four overarching priorities for health improvement: maximize resources and engage community partners in developing solutions; improve the delivery and quality of healthcare using evidence-based best practices; increase access to a primary care medical home; and reduce diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses.

The Council is currently in the process of finalizing their community health improvement plan, a companion document that identifies the specific measures and performance targets for these four strategic objectives which will be addressed over the next three years.

The 2012 Community Health Assessment can be found here: http://www.osceolahealth.org/Osceola_CHA%20_2012.pdf

Bay County Releases Community Health Improvement Plan

Bay County Releases Community Health Improvement Plan

From left to right, seated - Julia Ruschmann, Carmen Bailey, RN, standing, Douglas Kent, Administrator FDOH in Bay Co., Bill Dozier, Bay County Commissioner, and Pam Dorwarth, Board of Director member with the Community Health Task Force at "Know Your Numbers," a community-wide diabetes risk screening event held on April 5, 2013.
The Bay County Community Health Task Force (CHTF), a group of 40 community partners, recently released the Bay County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The 2012 CHIP serves to guide Bay County health partners as they work together to address local health priorities.

According to Lisa Rahn, Healthy Bay Coordinator, "We are very proud of the progress we've made since our CHIP was established a year ago, and the momentum is growing!"

The CHTF first collected data on residents' health issues by looking at health outcome data and surveying residents about the health issues that are of most concern to them. They established three health priorities: obesity and diabetes (aka Diabesity), access to healthcare, and healthy lifestyles education. For each priority issue, CHTF members established an action plan that includes a goal, objectives, strategies, key activities, lead roles, target dates, and evaluation measures.

CHTF members established a CHIP action team for each of the three priority areas. Diabesity Action Team members have conducted 9 community diabetes risk screening events. A total of 1,493 Bay County residents have been screened with 168 (11.25%) found at risk for prediabetes or diabetes. Sixty-seven community members have participated in the first four National Diabetes Prevention Program classes, and 195 people have attended free diabetes self-management education classes.

The Bay County Health Education Action Team (BayHEAT) has partnered with several non-profit organizations on community events. To date, they have provided information on healthy food choices, handed out dental kits and activity trackers, and planted organic pumpkins in recycled newspaper flowerpots with over 1,400 community members.

Members of the Access to Health Care Action Team (A2HC) have been researching single point of entry systems to enable easier access to community resources. In addition, they are spearheading an effort to bring 2-1-1 service (a toll-free, 24/7, health and human service resource line) to Bay and surrounding counties for the first time.

Next steps include reporting on the first year progress towards meeting the goals laid out in the CHIP to the community. This will start with a four-page newspaper insert in September 2013.

To view Bay county's CHIP, visit http://www.baycountyhealth.org/Documents/CHIPFullwithalignment.pdf

Hillsborough County Residents Tackle Obesity Problem

Hillsborough County Residents Tackle Obesity Problem

From left: Leslene Gordon, Ken Hagen (Chair County Commission), Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Armando Sanchez, Douglas Holt, Cindy Hardy, Walter Niles at the obesity summit.
Obesity rates have skyrocketed in the last 10 years, with obesity being a major factor in the diseases that affect many of our residents. The rate at which it is affecting children is also creating chronic disease conditions which previously were rarely seen in children.

The residents of Hillsborough decided to do something about it. In February of this year, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County hosted a one-day event to examine how, working together, our community could accelerate progress in reducing the weight of residents of Hillsborough County using the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) report on accelerating progress in obesity prevention as a guiding standard. Partners, community organizations and business representatives, local governments and schools worked together to propose specific actions that can be taken to accelerate progress in reducing overweight and obesity rates in Hillsborough County. As noted by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn who spoke at the event, "we need to make the case that this community needs to be healthier." Kenneth Hagan chair of the Hillsborough County Commission also highlighted that obesity was, the "most significant healthcare challenge we face at this time."

The challenges were organized into five areas. The guiding questions for the five areas were: How can we transform messages about physical activity and nutrition?; What can we do to make schools a focal point for obesity prevention?; How can we make physical activity an integral and routine part of life?; How do we create environments that ensure that healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice?; and, Where can we expand the role of healthcare providers, insurers, and employers in obesity prevention?.

Following the summit, Hillsborough County's Partners in Obesity Prevention (POP), was tasked with creating interventions related to the broad actions proposed by summit participants. POP is a coalition of individuals from a wide variety of disciplines and organizations. The coalition was formed a as a result of a community health assessment that identified obesity as a priority in Hillsborough county.

POP will continue to focus their attention in the five areas or environments identified by the IOM report. These include physical activity, food and beverage, healthcare and work, school and message environments.

To see Hillsborough's Community Health Assessment, visit here: http://www.hillscountyhealth.org/pdf/HCHD_2010-2011_Community_Health_Profile_Report.pdf

Community Led Health Improvement Plan in Lafayette

Community Led Health Improvement Plan in Lafayette

In August of this year, Pam Blackmon, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Lafayette County, presented an overview of the county's health improvement plan to the county commissioners and also outlined a vision of community involvement and buy-in.

The county's health improvement plan was the result of an evidence-based and community-led process. "We have a mighty group of community partners that are working on improving the health of Lafayette County," Blackmon said. "I think what's important to remember about the improvement plan is that it's not the health department's plan, it's the community's plan."

It started with the formation of the Lafayette Health Improvement Partnership (LHIP), comprising more than 30 community partners, which wanted to carefully look at health statistics and gather community input before deciding what issues to prioritize. The health assessment they conducted takes into account health indicators as well as health behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use and sexual activity, as well as educational and income levels. Once the assessment was completed, the group began work on an improvement plan.

The LHIP members used the data in the assessment to identify three health priorities for the next three to four years: maintaining the community health improvement partnership; improving health care access for underserved populations, through increasing transportation options and decreasing culture and language barriers; and decreasing chronic disease morbidity and mortality, through increasing physical activities and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Health improvement in Lafayette does not stop with the plan. In order to keep the momentum going, LHIP members meet quarterly to assess the status of the activities and strategies to ensure the partnership stays on target. According to Blackmon, "Community Health Partnerships, now more than ever, are necessary in order to meet the health needs of the community and ensure the best health outcomes. We are blessed in Lafayette County to have a caring and committed partnership."

To view Lafayette’s community health assessment and improvement plan, go to: http://doh.state.fl.us/chdlafayette/community.html

Lee County Uses Residents' Concerns to Tackle Environmental Health Issues

Lee County Uses Residents' Concerns to Tackle Environmental Health Issues

Staff from the Florida Department of Health in Lee County (DOH- Lee) wanted to use the momentum they established working with community partners on a Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) process to address the environmental health issues faced by some of the most disadvantaged in their county. They turned to the methodology called Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH), which allowed them to collaborate with residents, local government, and other stakeholders to improve the environment in health enhancing ways. According to Geordie Smith, Environmental Manager at DOH-Lee, "environmental health is protected and improved most effectively when it is defined, understood, and acted upon locally."

Members of the DOH-Lee Community Environmental Health Assessment team (the team) chose the Pine Manor community—one of five designated "blighted" communities by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners—for their first PACE EH project because it had the greatest need. Because the team wanted to engage residents in identifying and addressing environmental health priorities, they used a community survey to find out residents’ issues. The top ten issues identified from that survey were: drug trafficking (59%); lack of jobs (41%); violent crime (41%); abandoned houses (36%); speeding (34%); sexual predators (32%); trash/littering (31%); prostitution (29%); poor street lighting at night (28%); and domestic violence (25%). The team is now developing action plans to address these issues.

Already, this community-led effort has made a difference to Pine Manor residents. Some of the impressive accomplishments to date are improvements to neighborhood street lighting; increased resident participation in community activities; revitalization of the Neighborhood Watch program; completion of a culinary arts Teaching Kitchen; beginning construction of a Community Garden; conducting the first two Teaching Kitchen Classes/Programs; and grants of $6,200 and $41,258 for the Teaching Kitchen and Community Garden. According to Geordie, the most important accomplishment is "residents' increasing pride about their community and engagement with each other in improving it."

For more information, please contact the FDOH-Lee PACE EH Coordinator, Geordie Smith at: Geordie.Smith@flhealth.gov.

Webinar about the project

PowerPoint slides

Final Report

Capital Coalition for Health: Forging Strong Partnerships to Promote Healthy Living

Capital Coalition for Health: Forging Strong Partnerships to Promote Healthy Living

Partnership leaders announce the dental sealant program for 2nd graders at an October news conference
In the spring of 2011, The Florida Department of Health in Leon County initiated a county‐wide, community health assessment involving over 30 community partners. The group of partners, called The Capital Coalition for Health (the Coalition), identified three strategic health issues: obesity and chronic disease, health disparities, and access to health. Partners envisioned Leon County communities as ones in which the healthy choice is the easy choice; residents can live, work, and play in a safe and healthy environment; and every resident has access to affordable and equitable health care. Since then, The Coalition’s vision is coming to life through a blend of shared resources, regular communication and unwavering commitment to the shared goals outlined in their community health improvement plan.

Recognizing low-income residents’ dire need for access to dental health care, Coalition partners focused on children in lower-income schools. The Tallahassee Democrat recently highlighted the partnership and plans by Leon County Schools, Whole Child Leon and the Florida Department of Health in Leon County (pictured) to serve the entire Leon County second-grade population with sealants.

“The sealant program is an excellent example of how our community partners came together to look at the issues we feel are important to our community’s overall health, and then to take action toward addressing those issues,” said Holly Kirsch, Administrator, Florida Department of Health in Leon County. Participants used the assessment to identify another important community health issue: low birth weight rate in Leon County is higher than the rate in Florida overall and the disparity by race is substantial, with more than twice as many Black infants born with low birth weight (14.1%) as White infants (6.0%). Leon County and Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition (CAHSC), through its Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) project, identified poor preconception health as a contributing factor to infant mortality and prematurity. The groups are working together to increase the awareness among healthcare professionals of the importance of talking to families about making healthy choices even before pregnancy.

Coalition partners have planned a Preconception Health Conference for Saturday January 25, at the FSU College of Medicine. Physicians and other medical experts will share their experiences and encourage healthcare providers to use primary care visits to educate women about how their health might impact future pregnancies. View the agenda here. For more information, or to register, please contact Brittany Myers at bymers@srahec.org, or 386-462-1551, x. 105.

Okaloosa County Implements 2-1-1 Service for Area Residents

Beginning in 2011 the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County (DOH-Okaloosa) in partnership with over 40 community agencies began Mobilizing for a Healthier Okaloosa. Participants identified three priority areas for the Okaloosa County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP): Nutrition and Physical Activity (NAPA), Tobacco Cessation, and Access to Care.

Since their inception, the three CHIP work groups have been hard at work implementing action plans that reflect the needs of their community. Over the past year, the access to care work group identified a need for increased health and human services resource referrals. The group decided that working to fully implement 2-1-1 would offer Okaloosa County access to the information and referral services that it needs. By working with Northwest Florida 2-1-1 and the United Way of Okaloosa & Walton Counties, we are excited to say that Okaloosa County now has a fully functioning 2-1-1 service for our residents!

The CHIP tobacco work group identified a goal to reduce tobacco use in Okaloosa County youth. Work group members advocated for a policy change to the Okaloosa County School District’s Tobacco Discipline Policy. Previously, if students were caught using tobacco on school grounds they were suspended. This policy, while well intentioned, kept children out of school and did not help them quit smoking. Through partnerships with the Okaloosa County School District, a new policy was enacted for the 2013-2014 school year that gives students an in-school suspension where they are allowed to complete their school work and they are required to complete a tobacco cessation course before returning to class.

The nutrition and physical activity work group is working to “promote the quality of life of youth and adults through physical activity and nutrition.” With this goal in mind work group members set out to document all of the free and very low cost physical activity opportunities in Okaloosa County and have logged well over a hundred parks and recreation centers that are available to Okaloosa County families. Their ultimate goal is having the interactive data base linked to partners’ websites to provide families with easy access to affordable physical activity information.

In January 2014 all three work groups will reconvene to review any new available data associated with our priority areas and update action plans for the coming year. If you would like more information on Mobilizing for a Healthier Okaloosa and the Okaloosa County CHIP work groups please contact the DOH-Okaloosa Community Health Improvement Coordinator, Katie Cholcher at: Kathrine.Cholcher@flhealth.gov

Pasco Partners Work to Improve Use of Parks

Pasco Parks
When partners in the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County’s health improvement coalition reviewed their Community Health Assessment data, they found that chronic disease and obesity rates were rising. Because they wanted to understand the environmental issues that contribute to these pernicious trends, they turned to the Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE-EH), a methodology which guides communities in identifying and addressing environmental health priorities.

According to Mike Napier, administrator of the DOH in Pasco County, “We know that when residents use parks and recreational facilities, their physical and mental health improves while chronic diseases and obesity decline. We wanted to understand how residents perceived our parks so that we know how to encourage their use.”

Team members surveyed Pasco County residents on their use of recreational facilities, parks and trails in Pasco County. So far, three major themes have emerged from the survey as barriers to park use: the Florida heat (including concerns about finding water on the trails), the entrance and parking fees, and having limited access. One hundred and sixty residents indicated there were not enough parks and 127 indicated there were not enough trails. Additionally, 75 respondents said the parks, facilities and trails were too far from their homes. Greater than 17% of non-users (29) completing the survey indicated they did not know where the parks are located. When asked what would help increase their use of the parks, 154 respondents said they wanted more interesting activities, such as adult-focused events and sport leagues.

Pasco County hopes to use the results of the PACE-EH assessment, in conjunction with their other assessment findings, to further develop countywide improvement plans to address community health. Recently an intern from a local college took on the project to further analyze the results to help target actions to different geographical regions of the county. “Pasco County has beautiful county parks ideal for being physically active or to enjoy the natural scenery.” said Napier. “Using resident feedback to increase the use of these resources will improve the health of our county.”

Public Health and Non-Profit Hospitals: Collaborating for Improved Pinellas County Community Health

Public Health and Non-Profit Hospitals: Collaborating for Improved Pinellas County Community Health

Partners collaborating at Pinellas CHIP meeting
Through changes stemming from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), nonprofit hospitals now have the opportunity to direct their community benefit efforts toward public health interventions and collaborate more effectively with county health departments. The ACA requires nonprofit hospitals to complete community-health needs assessments regularly and create a plan on how to meet community needs identified through the assessment. The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is successfully demonstrating that collaboration with non-profit hospitals improves community health assessment efficiency by allowing both the health department and hospitals to do more with fewer resources.

All of the county’s non-profit hospitals, including BayCare Health System (with 5 hospitals in Pinellas), All Children’s Hospital, and Florida Hospital North Pinellas, and Moffitt Cancer Center in Hillsborough contacted the Health Department for input and public health expertise when conducting their assessments. Aware of the benefits of the hospitals’ new assessment requirements—such as shared ownership and investment for community health—Pinellas enthusiastically shared their assessment results with the hospitals. For example, data from a large survey of community residents completed by DOH-Pinellas were shared with the hospitals and consultants conducting their assessments. This allowed the hospitals to follow up with focus groups of residents and then share the results instead of duplicating efforts with additional surveys.

The Pinellas Community Health Action Team (CHAT), a team of public health system partners led by DOH-Pinellas, includes non-profit hospital partners. CHAT oversees the development and implementation of Pinellas’ community health assessment and community health improvement plan. The most recent community health improvement planning cycle in Pinellas began in 2011, before most hospitals had delved very deeply into their own community needs assessment, resulting in separate assessments for the health department and hospitals. Going forward, DOH-Pinellas hopes to go beyond information sharing with the non-profit hospitals, to fully integrating assessment processes.

Melissa Van Bruggen, from the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, noted that “recent mini-grants from the Florida Department of Health have provided for reliability and sustainability in health department assessment and planning activities—building confidence among partners, including hospitals, for future community health assessment integration.”

In partnership, community non-profit hospitals can draw from public health professionals’ years of experience and expertise in community health assessment and health improvement planning, and public health can in turn draw on hospitals’ participation and resources to strengthen their community-based health improvement efforts. It’s a collaboration that will ultimately benefit the residents of Pinellas. To learn more about CHAT and Community Health Improvement Planning in Pinellas, see http://www.pinellaschat.com/.

Partners Challenge Hendry County Residents to Drop 2,014 in 2014

Norm Coderre and Mary Ruth Prouty, Florida Department of Health in Hendry and 
                            Glades Counties with the “Goal Tracking Board” used to track progress
As part of Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General’s Healthiest Weight Initiative, the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties came up with a creative idea: the “Healthier Me 2014 Initiative.” This initiative is a “challenge” to folks in the areas of East & West Hendry County and Glades County to lose 2,014 pounds in the year 2014. Team members start with the goal of losing just 7% of their body weight to help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The initiative is not only about losing weight, it will also help participants to:

• Improve health

• Increase physical activity

• Eat more fruits and veggies

• Manage stress

In Hendry County, 72.9% of residents are overweight or obese. Members of the Healthier Hendry-Glades Task Force (Task Force), made up of 36 public health partners and community members, and led by the Department of Health in Hendry County (DOH-Hendry), realized they needed to prioritize reducing the incidence of weight-related health issues in their community health improvement plan. For this priority, the Task Force created the Healthier Me Challenge.

The Task Force members recruited Healthier Me Champions who attend trainings, put up banners, hand out flyers and organize weekly weigh-ins for their teams. To date, there are eleven teams, including various workplaces, a women’s club and the United Way/Salvation Army. Working through the Champions, DOH-Hendry staff can educate teams and create challenges and recognitions that sustain participant motivation. Most impressive is that participants have collectively already lost 1,094 lbs., over half of their goal for the year.

According to Patricia Dobbins, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties, the Healthiest Weight Florida initiative Healthier Me has “energized residents to work toward reasonable goals that will have long term payoffs for their health.” Task Force members are pleased with the results so far, and will set more ambitious goals next year.

Orange County Creating Innovative Partnerships to Tackle High Infant Mortality

Dr. Andrew Daire, Director of the UCF Marriage and 
                            Family Research Institute, delivers a workshop as part of the EI
Orange County is challenged with high infant mortality rates and the Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) is working with partners to change it. Though the county experienced a slight dip in the overall infant mortality rate last year, 2013 saw an increase in the rate from 6.9 deaths per 1,000 births to 7.5 deaths. At a stunning rate of 13.5 infant deaths per 1,000 births, Black babies in Orange County experienced nearly a 2 point increase in the rate. DOH-Orange Health Director, Kevin Sherin, MD, MPH, MBA, calls the rates “unacceptable” and is leading the effort to strengthen and create new community partnerships to aggressively lower the infant mortality rate.

Underscoring this effort is the DOH-Orange Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) in which reducing the rate of preterm birth is a primary goal. Preterm birth (delivery before 37 weeks gestation) leads to complications that can ultimately cause an infant’s death. One in five black babies is born preterm in Orange County. There are multiple reasons why a mother may deliver early, but increasing evidence connects social determinants of health to preterm births. As a result, DOH-Orange has created partnerships to explore the impact of poverty, domestic violence, racial injustice, and other social determinants on preterm births.

Last year, DOH-Orange and the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County developed a multi-sector team that applied for acceptance into the prestigious CityMatCH Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes (EI). Team Co-leaders, Ericka Burroughs-Girardi, the Health Equity Coordinator at DOH-Orange, and Linda Sutherland, the Executive Director of the Healthy Start Coalition, were grateful when the team’s application was accepted. The EI is providing technical assistance to help the team develop two interventions to address the root causes of infant mortality in Orange County. “Creating this team required us to reach out to nontraditional stakeholders and create innovative partnerships,” says Burroughs-Girardi.

One such partnership is with the University of Central Florida’s Marriage Research and Family Institute (MFRI). While the MFRI had never been involved in infant mortality prevention efforts in the past, their director, psychologist Andrew Daire, quickly saw the connection between the MFRI’s work, helping couples develop effective communication skills, manage stress, and avoid domestic violence, and preventing infant deaths. The MFRI is consulting the team in creating an intervention aimed at reducing maternal stress while increasing fatherly support. Another new partnership that has evolved is with Bithlo-based United Global Outreach, Inc. (UGO). This community-based organization is emerging as a leader in transforming impoverished neighborhoods into healthy, thriving neighborhoods. UGO is consulting the team in working effectively with disenfranchised populations. For more information about DOH-Orange’s infant mortality reduction efforts, contact Ericka Burroughs-Girardi at (407) 858-1400 x 1217.

Sarasota County Creating Community-Driven Workplace Wellness Program

Small businesses typically do not qualify for wellness programs through their insurance carriers. Since small businesses represent the majority of business in Sarasota Country this equates to a large number of employees who would never witness a wellness program at their worksites. To address the need for worksite wellness programs at low or no-cost, Healthy Sarasota County (HSC), a partnership of public and private entities, worked for two years to craft HSC Workplaces. The partnership included the county’s largest public employers such as Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota County Government, Sarasota County Schools, and Tidewell Hospice, all coming together to make a difference. HSC Workplaces is a free program that provides local businesses with assistance in launching a workplace wellness program and recognizes forward-thinking businesses already doing great things in addressing employee health and wellness.

“We are pleased to promote the Healthy Sarasota County Workplaces Initiative and to provide guidance and recognition to our business partners in the community. We are also enjoying the benefits we see in our own workplace as evidenced by strong staff engagement throughout our organization,” said DOH Sarasota County Director, Chuck Henry.

The goals of HSC Workplaces are to promote peer-to-peer business mentoring in Sarasota County; to provide free training to businesses on employee wellness; to provide cost-effective health and wellness education programs; to encourage sustained and replicable workplace health activities; and to lower costs and increase productivity by addressing chronic disease prevention. For the individual employees, the program will address key areas in chronic disease prevention, raise awareness of how to sustain good health, and encourage positive lifestyle changes to become healthier.

Ten businesses, representing approximately 1300 employees, completed HSC Workplaces 2015. The worksite wellness program assisted them creating policy and organizational change to encourage healthy lifestyles in their employees. All ten 2015 designees have reached targets in seven high impact areas, which include Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Stress Reduction, Tobacco Cessation, Illness Prevention, Support For Breastfeeding, and Drug Free Workplaces. The HSC Workplaces Summit 2014 recognized their successes and invited additional Sarasota County businesses to enroll for the 2016 program cycle. The goal is to have at least ten additional businesses enroll for 2016.

Duval County Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program

Funded through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC), the Duval County Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program has been in operation for 24 years. According to DOH-Duval Director Dr. Kelli Wells, “Research has shown that breastfeeding enhances brain development and learning readiness and children who were breastfed are less likely to have diabetes, childhood cancers , and be overweight as adults. The Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program is an important initiative in our county to support mothers and babies during this key developmental period.” Thousands of women have worked with peer counselors over the years and as of May 2014, 4,780 pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and infants were receiving breastfeeding services from the Duval County program. Since 2009, the Peer Counselor program has increased the breastfeeding initiation rate by 12.3%. Currently, 79% of mothers enrolled in WIC are initiating breastfeeding.

One example of the amazing work of the Peer Counselors is the story of “Baby T”, who was born at only 28 weeks gestation and weighing just 2 lbs. 8 oz. While still in the NICU, Baby T developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening condition where the lining of the intestines becomes inflamed and can no longer function. Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of this disease and breastfeeding after the development of this serious condition is recommended because breast milk is easily digested, supports the growth of good bacteria in the gut, and boosts the baby’s immunity.

The mother of baby T. was referred to the Peer Counseling Program and through the assistance of a lactation consultant was able to express breast milk for her baby. The program provided an electric hospital grade breast pump for her to use at home. Baby T. had surgery to repair the intestine and, with the help of mother’s breastmilk, is doing well. The mother of baby T. attends the breastfeeding support groups held by the Peer Counselors and shares her story with other mothers. Baby T. is now 7 months of age and exclusively breastfed. This was a team effort of care coordination between the hospital NICU, mom and Baby T, Ms. Holder, peer counselors and the breastfeeding support group members.

The Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program supports these mothers and infants through a partnership with UF Health (formerly Shands Hospital), physicians and nurses. Involved staff use follow up calls, the breastfeeding “warmline,” the breastfeeding pump program, monthly breastfeeding support groups and one-to-one consults in person or by phone to help women initiate and sustain breastfeeding. DOH-Duval Director Dr. Wells says that the goals of the program are to continue to increase breastfeeding initiation rates and improve the capacity of the community to support breastfeeding mothers.

FDOH-Martin and Martin County Schools are Fighting Tooth Decay and Saving Smiles

FDOH-Martin and Martin County Schools are Fighting Tooth Decay and Saving Smiles
The Florida Department of Health in Martin County is working to increase preventive dental services through the 2014-2015 School Based Sealant Project. As part of this pilot program, hundreds of students in Martin County Title I schools are smiling brighter. The School Based Sealant Project was launched in October 2014 and has provided close to 500 students with dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surface of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay.

"We are delighted to offer this program to Martin County school children," said Karlette Peck, Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Martin County. "This pilot program is providing dental sealants to second, third, and fifth grade students who otherwise may not receive them." With parental consent, a dental hygienist with the Florida Department of Health in Martin County works within the schools to provide oral exams and apply the sealants. The sealants are place on the chewing surfaces of the teeth and act as a barrier for cavities. The children are also provided with a take home kit with helpful tools for keeping their teeth healthy. These kits include a new tooth brush, dental floss, toothpaste, and a countdown timer for effective tooth-brushing.

Starting good oral health early is one key to a long healthy life. According to FLHealthCHARTS, as of 2010, 53.3% of adults in Martin County reported that they have had a permanent tooth removed because of tooth decay or gum disease. Regular dental check-ups are essential milestones for a lifetime of oral health. Other keys to good oral health include seeing a dentist regularly, limiting sugar and brushing and flossing teeth at least twice daily.

The pilot program, funded by a state grant, is expected to continue to provide services through May of 2015.

For more information about the Florida Department of Health in Martin County School Based Sealant Project, please contact Renay Rouse @ 772-631-6008 or at Renay.Rouse@flhealth.gov.

Polk Vision Launches 5-2-1-0

 Polk Vision Launches 5-2-1-0
Polk Vision, a group of community partners working towards the goal of reducing the obesity rate in Polk County, launched a Building a Healthier Polk initiative. Dr. Ulyee Choe, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County, led local pediatricians and physicians in a ceremony prescribing healthier, active living to Polk residents through the 5-2-1-0 Initiative. Physicians from Lakeland Regional Health, Lakeside Pediatrics and Watson Clinic joined Dr. Choe in signing sample prescriptions for the community.

"The 5-2-1-0 Initiative is an excellent way for Polk residents to create healthy habits that grow into healthy lifestyles. From the beginning, Building a Healthier Polk has sought to make the healthy choice the easy choice," said Dr. Ulyee Choe.

The 5-2-1-0 Initiative promotes healthy eating and active living to prevent and reduce obesity. This effort encourages a life style with simple and healthier options by choosing:

  • 5 – fruits and vegetables every day
  • 2 – hours or less of screen time per day
  • 1 – hour or more of physical activity every day
  • 0 – sugar-sweetened drinks
Obesity is a risk factor for chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, all major causes of death and preventable hospital stays. Polk County's obesity rate exceeds the state's average by more than 10%.

Building a Healthier Polk invited community members to join the 5-2-1-0 Initiative and encourage other residents to make a pledge to help promote 5-2-1-0 in 2015. The pledges were posted to social media profiles. This initiative encourages residents to challenge family, friends and colleagues to make their pledges, too.

The 5-2-1-0 Initiative is part of a three year plan to reduce obesity based on 6 key strategy areas: school age based, community based, physician based, worksite based, higher education, and communications.

For more information on the Building a Healthier Polk Initiative, visit www.polkvision.com/building-a-healthier-polk/. You can also find them on Twitter at @HealthierPolk and on Facebook.

DOH-Gulf Partnering to Increase Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

DOH-Gulf Partnering to Increase Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
In 2013, staff from DOH-Gulf and their community partners looked at their comprehensive community health assessment and realized that residents of the county ranked in the fourth quartile of the state for adults who were overweight and for diabetes mortality. To combat these pernicious health outcomes, the Gulf County Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP Partners) chose chronic disease and obesity as two of their three priorities (along with Tobacco) and designed several evidenced-based strategies to improve both, including establishing healthy food choices in local food markets, worksite wellness programs, and a community walking program.

However, as they implemented these strategies and monitored the outcomes, CHIP Partners realized that a resource their residents already had—a farmer's market with fresh fruits and vegetables—was underutilized. Through discussions in monthly community health improvement planning meetings, the CHIP Partners became aware that transportation was a barrier for residents in low-income areas to access the Salt Air Famer’s Market and its fresh fruits and vegetables.

To overcome the transportation barrier, DOH-Gulf and CHIP partners—including City of Port St. Joe Government, Gulf County Government, Gulf County School District, Bay, Franklin, Gulf Healthy Start Coalition, Gulf Public Transportation, Salt Air Farmer's Market, DOH-Gulf and Franklin Health Education Programs and local media (newspaper, radio)—are sponsoring a novel project. Gulf Public Transportation will offer two free round trips to the farmer's market to increase accessibility. Anyone in the City of Port St. Joe can call Gulf Public Transportation to reserve a seat.

Sign-in sheets will record participation and the initial application to participate will establish the daily fruit and vegetable consumption of participants. The CHIP Partners would like to see an increase of fruit and vegetable consumption by 1-2 servings among farmer's market participants. According to DOH-Gulf administrator Marsha Player Lindeman, "Gulf County residents will now be able to access another resource to enable them to make healthier choices and ultimately to avoid obesity and diabetes." She added, "It is only through our strong community partnerships that we can create a community where healthy choices are easy choices."

Sarasota and Manatee Partnership Learning from Residents about Access to Healthy Food

What if getting a healthy meal meant walking more than ten miles with an armful of groceries in Florida’s summer heat? Sarasota and Manatee county residents are helping their county health departments understand the difficulties they experience living in a food desert, or an area where people can’t afford healthy food or they do not have any nearby. Nineteen USDA-designated food deserts exist between these counties in an area where more than 78,000 people live.

Responding to a number of community leaders’ concerns about access to healthy food, DOH-Sarasota and DOH-Manatee staff are working with 16 diverse community partners, including universities, non-profit organizations, and City and County government, to try to understand and rectify the problems that residents face by initiating a cross-county food assessment. The partners are using community forums, key informant interviews, focus groups, photo-voice and personal narrative collection, and randomized door-to-door surveys. Using their technical capability in synthesizing this qualitative data with statistical data, the Sarasota-Manatee partnership is learning from hundreds of residents in seven food desert clusters.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. ”In Manatee County, we have large Hispanic populations, Haitian populations and African-American populations and we want to work with them to accommodate their preferences,” says Megan Jourdan, Manatee County Community Health Specialist. “The whole point of this project is to identify what interventions are most applicable to different neighborhoods. We don't want to choose where a community garden goes based on our limited understanding of contextual factors. We need residents to tell us about their barriers to healthy eating."

Because of innovative community engagement like in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the future holds promise. “We have learned valuable information directly from our residents,” says Pascale Edouard, Sarasota County Community Health Educator. “We will be able to target efforts to specific neighborhood needs while allowing residents to be involved in the health improvement of their community.” Focus groups revealed that residents want increased opportunities for education on topics like nutrition, cooking for kids, and cooking on a budget. Furthermore, many residents would like for their communities to have community gardens, farm stands that accept EBT, and generally more affordable options. The project will be ongoing, and a steering committee from local governments and nonprofits is set to make policy recommendations based on the data collected and analyzed from this project. Staff from DOH-Sarasota and Manatee counties are committed to improving their residents’ quality of life and health by learning from them how to make effective changes.

For more information on the project, contact Megan Jourdan at Megan.Jourdan@flhealth.gov (DOH-Manatee) or Pascale Edouard at Pascale.Edouard@flhealth.gov (DOH-Sarasota).

Broward County - Working to Improve Breastfeeding Rates

Breastfeeding may protect babies from a long list of illnesses, allergies, and reduce the risk of obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. For mothers, breastfeeding could reduce the risk of postpartum depression and certain types of cancer.

In Broward County breastfeeding rates are lowest among low-income households and mothers who are women of color, particularly those living in the Broward zip code 33311. DOH-Broward is working with community partners to improve breastfeeding rates for this population by launching the 33311 WIC Project. According to Ester March Singleton, DOH-Broward Breastfeeding Coordinator, “The 33311 WIC Project targets the residents who are most at risk for not breastfeeding.” She adds, “A small increase in breastfeeding rates for this population could translate to lifelong health benefits for their babies.”

The 33311 WIC Project includes working with community partner Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB), which holds a group called “Mocha Moms” in a local church within the targeted zip code by providing breastfeeding support and education. WIC also provides breastfeeding support and education at the Urban League, and partners with HMHB to provide peer counseling and breastfeeding support to “Mocha Milk,” a weekly group session conducted in the 33311 zip code area. Partners will hold focus groups in the 33311 area to identify needs and gaps, and to discuss barriers to breastfeeding. Early success shows that clients are bonding with their WIC breastfeeding peer counselor and requesting hospital and home visits.

According to Ms. Singleton, “Expansion plans include working with Broward Health, the local public health hospital system, targeted as a new WIC partner for hospital-based and clinical peer counseling services.”

For more information on the project, visit http://broward.floridahealth.gov or call (954) 467-4511

DOH-Lafayette Grows its Own Healthy Food Resource

Partnering with the Lafayette County Extension Office UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program, the Healthiest Weight Florida Initiative from the DOH-Lafayette created a community garden with a group of residents volunteering from the nearby Mayo community. The purpose of the community garden is to promote physical activity, engage the community in planting their own garden, and educate residents about the benefits of increasing the amount of vegetables and fruits in their diets.

Studies show that community garden participants maintain a healthier weight than neighboring non-participants, likely because gardening necessitates regular exercise for participants and allows access to healthy food. Maggie Evans, the Healthiest Weight Florida and Chronic Disease Prevention Coordinator for Suwannee and Lafayette Counties, sees the community garden as an opportunity. “A large part of eating nutritional food is being able to access it, which is a major problem for the community we serve,” Maggie Evans explains. “We have limited resources and only one grocery store in the immediate area, and the closest farmers market is only open two days a week almost thirty miles away in Live Oak.”

The community garden provides the opportunity for residents to access healthy food, addressing the health inequity that much of Lafayette County experiences. Evans expects to see Lafayette’s public health issues to be helped by the community garden, especially by the activities following the completion of the garden. “Our partner [UF/IFAS] helps us to maintain the garden, and UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program will be providing on site classes about good nutrition for the volunteers that work in the garden.”

DOH-Lafayette will continue to have a working community garden year round to inspire residents to learn about gardening, grow their own produce, and eat more fruits and vegetables.

DOH-Miami-Dade Recognizing Crime as a Threat to Public Health

Over 50% of children report not feeling safe at school. Children’s programs are one of the many strategies of “Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City” that aim to reduce crime and help trauma victims in their recovery.
As early as 1979, U.S. Surgeon Generals have reported that the consequences of violent behavior must be addressed as a matter of public health policy. The consequences of violent crime reach far beyond the victim and perpetrator; violence spreads over a population and causes symptoms of mental, emotional, and physical harm. Violent actions from one individual ripple through the community, quickly making a personal decision a widespread public health problem.

“We see a definite link between our community’s exposure to crime and their health outcomes, so we need to give people the resources they need to withstand and change the course of crime,” says Priscilla Pouchet at DOH-Miami-Dade. “Children are the most at risk. Over 50% report they don’t even feel safe on their way to school or within their school.”

DOH- Miami-Dade is partnering with five other neighborhood leader organizations to develop “Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City.” The partners include FIHI, the Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI), Catalyst Miami, Jesse Trice Community Health Center, and Jackson Health System. This project is building upon the success of the Miami Children’s Initiative’s place-based, resident-driven, cradle-to-college-to-career strategy. It aims to leverage and strengthen MCI’s “Collaborative Table,” a group of residents, youth and community leaders who have been meeting monthly since 2013.

The collaborative is one of 18 American neighborhood projects selected by the BUILD Health Challenge to develop innovative approaches to improve community health. Innovations include the leadership training available to Liberty City parents, which aims to build community capacity for resident-driven collective action. The collaborative uses the principles of collaborative leadership and a results-based, data-driven planning framework in order to connect Liberty City residents with health care, public health and community leaders. These connections help residents to identify and address root causes of crime-driven health outcomes; assess and leverage relationships and community and health resources; and strategically plan for improved public safety, using evidence-based and community-designed crime prevention and restorative justice interventions.

Like an infectious disease, violence acts as a contagion among those who come into contact with it. By going to the source of many public health problems, “Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City” is working on more than the symptoms of crime – it is finding a cure.

For more information on the project, visit FLHealthInnovation.org/build-health-challenge

An Environmental Health Project: DOH-Indian River Rehabilitates Housing with the Community

According to WHO, environmental health encompasses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person. Using NACCHO’s Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH), DOH-Indian River engages with the community to prevent disease and create health-supportive environments by working with community partners, like Epic Missions.

Rehabilitating Indian River County’s substandard housing is an environmental issue that is a top community issue recognized by three disadvantaged communities. It was identified through a needs assessment survey, which is still being conducted with help from community partners. “Community partners were indispensable in helping us draft and finalize the needs assessment survey questions that really got at what we wanted to know,” Price says.

DOH-Indian River’s community partner Epic Missions is a Florida-based volunteer group coming to work in Fellsmere to rehabilitate housing. “I’ve worked with Epic Missions before and I was really impressed by their optimism, great work ethic, and genuine desire to help others,” says Julianne Price, Government Analyst at DOH-Indian River. “When we decided to implement PACE EH in Fellsmere, I knew they would be willing to help out again.” A number of community partners are on board with this initiative, such as Fellsmere Action Community Team (FACT), which is comprised of local nonprofits, government leaders, law enforcement, clergy, and other community stakeholders.

One of the most surprising obstacles that DOH-Indian River and its community partners are facing is a low level of trust among Fellsmere residents when it comes to law enforcement. The distrust is problematic since it influences residents’ feelings of safety and security within the community, which is itself a health concern. Looking towards the future, DOH-Indian River is setting the foundation for tackling the unique needs and goals of their community with meaningful engagement. DOH-Indian River depends on their community partners; their knowledge of Fellsmere and passion for helping their community are invaluable for addressing community needs.

Like an infectious disease, violence acts as a contagion among those who come into contact with it. By going to the source of many public health problems, “Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City” is working on more than the symptoms of crime – it is finding a cure.

Visit IndianRiver.FloridaHealth.gov to find out more about their PACEEH and community engagement. For more information on the project, visit contact Julianne.Price@flhealth.gov (Government Analyst II, DOH-Indian River).

DOH-Baker Empowering Community to Attain Healthier Weight

DOH-Baker’s Healthiest Weight Initiative unites a diverse group of community members to work on interventions that prevent disease and promote health. Collectively known as the Baker County Healthiest Weight Quality Improvement Community Group, these DOH-Baker residents are passionate about improving the health of the county, particularly by helping everyone in Baker County maintain a healthy weight.

The Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings has recently indicated that Baker County is ranked 62 out of 67 counties in Florida in terms of positive health outcomes. A review of FLHealthCHARTS revealed that 69.4% of adults in Baker County are overweight or obese, indicating a lack of healthy lifestyle choices by adults in the county.

“We realized that there may not be many resources in our community,” says Terrenia Staier. “But there is a greater need to address community awareness and knowledge on how to live healthy lifestyles.”

DOH-Baker initiated the first meeting with an open discussion regarding different elements that would make up a healthy community and barriers that effect healthy weight in Baker County. Since then, the group has met each month to create strategies for reaching other Baker County residents and for increasing residents’ knowledge and awareness regarding health and wellness, including educating on proper nutrition and healthy eating, how to eat healthy on a budget, increasing physical activity, how to fit healthy lifestyle activities into daily routines, and information on resources available in the community. Group members have been working to develop a county resource guide compiled of educational and support materials as well as a community resource lists to provide as part of a Healthy Weight Educational Campaign. They will use these materials to promote healthy weight and physical activity by providing information directly to residents aimed at addressing their individual needs. The materials will be distributed at community events and health fairs and through various organizations within the county. In addition, informational materials will be provided to the local media to enhance opportunities to increase awareness.

The Baker County Healthiest Weight Quality Improvement Community Group is 18 members strong and growing, including representatives from the Baker Buying Club, Baker County Press, Baker County School District, Fit Girl Chronicles, River Region, Smart Market, a local insurance company, faith based organizations, a nutritionist, and community residents. In addition, representatives from School Health, Healthy Start, Tobacco Prevention, Health Education, and Administration from the Florida Department of Health in Baker County participate.

A healthy weight depends on a healthy, informed and motivated community. The Baker county Healthiest Weight Quality Improvement Community Group is giving Baker County a step in the right direction.

DOH-Flagler Transforms Blight into Beauty: Brownfield to Community Garden

A public health trend continues to rise. Local governments are getting more involved in promoting community gardens because of their demonstrated health benefits for residents. DOH-Flagler is taking its community gardening project to the next level and incorporating the community’s vision into every step of the project.

When some people saw only a vacant brownfield (i.e., an urban area that is underused because of real or perceived environmental pollution), Sheena Fegumps and others at DOH-Flagler saw an opportunity. “Many communities close to brownfields are underprivileged,” Fegumps says. “And when there is a food desert, something needs to be done to enable the community to make healthy food choices.” After transforming a portion of the brownfield into a community garden, DOH-Flagler has more plans for improving health.

DOH-Flagler is initiating a health series in order to create a bond between itself, the community members, and the community garden. Starting with two classes a month, residents can learn about how to maintain their garden, cook with the garden’s produce, and develop other skills needed to sustain their garden. The classes respond to the community’s requests, which are gathered from both surveys and interpersonal interactions.

The project began with a survey to identify the barriers to accessing fruits and vegetables. Transportation and cost were the most cited barriers, respectively. The survey also inquired about which fruits and vegetables were most important to the community so residents would get exactly what they needed from their garden. One DOH-Flagler employee in particular aided in the survey, due in part because they live in the surrounding community. The local employee has been vital in getting input from residents.

The Baker County Healthiest Weight Quality Improvement Community Group is 18 members strong and growing, including representatives from the Baker Buying Club, Baker County Press, Baker County School District, Fit Girl Chronicles, River Region, Smart Market, a local insurance company, faith based organizations, a nutritionist, and community residents. In addition, representatives from School Health, Healthy Start, Tobacco Prevention, Health Education, and Administration from the Florida Department of Health in Baker County participate.

The current trend for government-supported public gardens is nothing new; it is merely resurfacing. It was about 100 years ago that the government encouraged citizens to take their food production into their own hands. Victory Gardens sprung out all over the world to support the overall World War I war effort by reducing the pressure on the public food supply. Now, local county health departments are helping alleviate healthy food shortages in the communities that need it most.

Lee - Healthiest Weight Initiative

There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The proverb points to the truth that new mothers need support, and DOH-Lee helps provide it through language-inclusive breastfeeding classes for prenatal care. DOH-Lee staff engage the community surrounding new mothers by encouraging them to invite friends, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, and anyone that wants to learn about how to properly care for the newborn.

“We dispel myths and misconceptions of pregnancy and breastfeeding so mothers can get the support they need,” says Giomar Veloz, DOH-Lee Public Health Nutritionist Supervisor. “Motherhood is a very confusing time; your grandma may insist on something her mother taught her, but in reality it may not be best for the baby or the mother. By getting to the people closest to the mother to understand, trust, and support her, mom can continue to breastfeed despite the challenges that may arise.”

Each mother in the class is assigned a peer counselor that they can call anytime, a crucial component of successfully breastfeeding. Veloz says, “If there is a problem, it needs to be fixed right away. We don’t want her to buy formula out of desperation.” After the baby is born, mothers can join a support group and keep coming to DOH-Lee for help. One month and six month certificates celebrate the hard work it takes for mothers to exclusively breastfeed, especially for working mothers. Veloz also coordinates an internship that trains WIC clinicians, dietetic technicians, and health support technicians to promote and provide resources and education for breastfeeding.

Classes are about breast-feeding support during prenatal care. Available in Spanish and English, both classes also include lessons on proper seatbelt positions, dental care, and physical activity and whatever other concerns mothers and their supporters bring. The participatory nature of the classes have led to successful word-of-mouth recruitment. DOH-Lee has been so far-reaching that Veloz’s recent appearance on the Spanish-speaking network Telemundo even led to requests from Colombia to conduct presentations for new mothers on breastfeeding.

New mothers and their communities are thankful. For some women, it is the only prenatal support available to them. Now many mothers are reaching out to others and developing a rich social network to raise a child; essentially, DOH-Lee is building a village to help every mother raise a child.