Victoria County seeks public input on community health plan

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

March 11, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated March 11, 2014 at 10:12 p.m.

Dozens of groups taking part in the first health assessment in Victoria County aim to create a vision of health for the area with a communitywide strategic plan.

With the community's input, Dr. Lisa Campbell, a public health nurse consultant, and Dr. Bain Cate, the public health director, will develop a three-year community health improvement plan.

"We want to improve the overall health of all the citizens of Victoria County," Campbell said.

The plan includes healthy eating, active living and smoking cessation.

Campbell and Cate are conducting an online survey, which opens Saturday, to determine which aspects of the plan Victoria County residents support.

"Each one of the goals and objectives are measurable," Campbell said. "We really want everyone in Victoria County to be behind this to improve our overall health."

The study goes beyond the health department and includes 27 stakeholders across almost every section of the county, including the school district and higher education, the two hospitals, major employers, nonprofit groups and more.

Cate said the plan is aimed toward the whole community with no specific geographical or socioeconomic groups targeted.

"The group writing the plan was very careful to make the activities available to everyone that wants to participate," Cate said in an email.

County Judge Don Pozzi contacted Campbell last March about conducting a health assessment. The commissioners court then approved moving forward on the study.

The plan will compare the county's health to national standards. When looking at the ratio of direct care physicians to residents, Victoria County is considered an under-served health occupation area.

The county has elevated rates of death from cardiovascular disease, cancers and morbidity and complications from diabetes. The obesity rate is at 31 percent, and while comparable to the state, it is considered high, according to the Community Health Improvement Plan.

About 15 percent of the county's residents use some form of tobacco, and about 14 percent of low-income residents do not have access to nutritional foods at a neighborhood store.

Campbell said the county will find out in June if grant funding is available to implement the plan.

Once the plan is created, Campbell said she will continue being facilitator, ensuring the momentum doesn't slow down, but each of the groups will carry these projects forward.

The major obstacle now is securing funding to implement the health improvement plan, she said.



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