Fond du Lac County businesses, organizations and medical providers came together on May 14 to learn about initial successes to implement action plans designed to enhance the overall health and well-being of residents.
Members of the Healthy Fond du Lac 2020 Steering Committee gave an update on its progress toward achieving goals established in the Fond du Lac County 2012-2015 Community Health Improvement Plan. As part of the three-year plan, efforts are underway to address the issues of obesity, dental care, mental health and alcohol consumption.
The breakfast session featured keynote speaker Margaret Schmelzer, state health plan director and public health nursing and health policy director with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Public Health, that was complimentary of Fond du Lac County’s efforts to work in collaboration to improve the county’s health,
“When you have a meaningful and actionable plan, it can make the difference for individuals and families within your communities,” Schmelzer says. “No one organization can do this alone. But, groups of partners with people at the center of their hearts can effectively serve in leadership roles to look at the complex issues and see all the possibilities.”
The Community Health Improvement Plan process started around three years with data collection, followed by a community health assessment. From there, the four core areas of focus were set, and about a year ago, teams began determining and executing strategies.
Each core group provided a brief overview of initial successes, led off by Bill Lamb, chief of police for the City of Fond du Lac. Lamb has been a part of planning around binge drinking and over-consumption of alcohol among youth and adults.
“Statistics show that 27 percent of Fond du Lac County adults report excessive drinking in the past 30 days,” Lamb says. “Sixty-five percent of Fond du Lac County students in grades eight to 11 report it is very or fairly easy to access alcohol.”
Lamb discussed two action plans including developing a best practices guide to help individuals or businesses with temporary alcohol licenses learn methods to curb over-consumption at public events (wrist bands, ID checks, drink limits). In addition, the group is looking at ways to educate the public about liability concerns with over-consumption, as well as recognizing signs that someone is drinking too much.
Kim Mueller, health officer with the Fond du Lac County Health Department, shared successes in opening up access to dental through the Save a Smile program. Since 2007, contracted local dental providers provide children access to dental care that would otherwise be unavailable.
“Our oral health program coordinator secures and maintains the participation of 39 dental providers,” Mueller explains. “She accesses, provides patient education and refers patients. Save a Smile patients learn about the negative effects of sugary beverages, tobacco products, the link between dental health, and overall health and much more.”
Matt Doll, with Agnesian HealthCare’s Doll & Associates, talked about the stigma surrounding mental health and his team’s efforts to decrease the stigma of mental health so people are more comfortable to seek care through nurturing partnerships. Efforts are underway to more effectively educate the community about various mental health issues to help demystify mental health.
Doll says grant money is being sought to help drive wellness initiatives and create resources to ensure that needed information is just a click away.
Marty Ryan, of Actra Orthotics and Prosthetics, outlined strategies to improve the physical health and well-being of all people in Fond du Lac County through healthy eating and active lifestyles.
The Farmer’s Market in Fond du Lac will now be able to accept electronic balance transfers (EMT) to help people without cash to purchase healthy food options, including fruits and vegetables. It will also open up the market for FoodShare participants.
And, lastly, the Fond du Lac Family YMCA has developed a Y5210 program, which encourages children to make healthy choice options to decrease their risk of obesity and improve their health. Classroom curriculum has been piloted in 15 third grade classrooms in Fond du Lac.
To learn more about the Fond du Lac County 2012-2015 Community Health Improvement Plan, visit http://www.fdlco.wi.gov/Index.aspx?page=1368.
The steering committee is currently creating a new web site that will incorporate information on all four areas of focus by July 1. The web site will be available at www.livingwellfdl.com.