FDOH In Leon County Addresses County Health Rankings

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By: Emily Johnson
March 26, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - "Better health and better mental clarity," said Ying Hung.

Hung said that's why he and Lon Tran go to Lake Ella each week to get in their exercise.

Folks getting in their exercise is one of the reasons why Leon County was recently ranked 9TH out the 67 in Florida when it comes to health rankings.

The annual study by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations factors in several pieces of criteria including STD rates, social services and how much people drink.

"Of course we were happy that we are 9TH. We would love to be #1, so we do know there is still more work that needs to be done," said Holly Kirsch, Leon County Health Department.

Part of that work that needs to be done is reducing the obesity rate.

"Unfortunately our obesity rates are still high, so we have worked on several projects in the community," said Kirsch.

Other counties didn't score as well.

Wakulla County ranked 29TH
Liberty County ranked 32ND
Franklin County ranked 36TH
Madison County ranked 56TH
Jefferson County ranked 58TH
Taylor County ranked 60TH
Gadsden ranked 61ST

If you would like more information you can visit www.countyhealthranking.org

News Release: Florida Department of Health

Tallahassee –The Florida Department of Health in Leon County recognizes the value in measuring health outcomes and today acknowledged the 5th annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, much of which is available from the Department at www.floridacharts.com.

“For the last few years, DOH-Leon has been involved in evaluating the public health system in the county,” said Holly Kirsch, LD/RD, acting Administrator of DOH-Leon. “To find out what our local stakeholders and partners are concerned about in Tallahassee, we formed the Capital Coalition for Health and engaged in a community assessment called, Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP),” Kirsch said. “The two-year process included input from the public and identified the basic issues we will use to structure our efforts to improve the community’s public health.”

Members of the community with an interest in the assessment ranged from partners in private and public agencies to government entities. "In a time of great need, the Florida Department of Health in Leon County continues to serve our community and support our quality of life," said Leon County Commission Chairman Kristin Dozier. "The healthcare team provides vital services from family planning to nutrition, disease outbreak investigations to health promotion, school health to disaster preparedness, and social services to environmental health inspections. The Florida Department of Health in Leon County reaches every citizen to make us healthier and happier."

The County Health Rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. The Department works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Leon County. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care.

In Leon County, the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is designed to address specific opportunities for improved health that have been identified by the community. The Department has partnered with many stakeholders to implement the CHIP and collaborates regularly to track progress.
For example, one area Leon is working to improve is the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Through a new campaign with public service announcements and billboards geared to our target groups, DOH-Leon hopes to increase awareness of safe practices and decrease the rate of disease transmission. Another area identified in the MAPP process is obesity. Leon’s Health Promotion and Wellness team has joined a large group of area agencies in supporting the 95210 initiative, which promotes a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating, daily exercise, good sleep and screen time practices.

“DOH-Leon has taken to heart the saying, ‘You have to walk the walk to talk the talk,’” said Mary Barley, Health and Well-Being Coordinator for Leon County. “Self-help is the first step to wellness, and DOH-Leon has started an employee wellness program that is many-sided. They have plotted mile-long walking routes for each of their five buildings, scheduled healthy lunch-and-learns, and sent an inspirational newsletter to all employees. So, although Leon County’s adult obesity rate needs to be reduced, the county’s physical activity rate has improved. DOH-Leon will lead the public health effort to improve its citizens’ wellness by example,” Barley said.

The first examples we have, of course, are in our individual families. “Families are the foundation of our society and the most important investment we can make,” said Kristy Goldwire, Executive Director of the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition. “Through DOH-Leon moms and dads who ask for help receive information and classes on the basics of raising healthy, happy children. Leon County’s care coordinators counsel and nurture the parents one-on-one so that they, in turn, have the knowledge and confidence to raise their children with the best information available.”

The Department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.floridahealth.gov.

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