In early 2013, the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services embarked on a comprehensive process to identify the health needs of the Boone County, Missouri community. The process included both an extensive review of community data, as well as a gathering of input from a variety of stakeholders, community members, and public health partners through the six-phase Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) model, created by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Program Practice Office.
The quantitative and qualitative data led to the development of the department’s Community Health Assessment (CHA) and the subsequent Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) Live Well Boone County, taking information from the CHA and turning it into actionable steps to improve the health of Boone County. Since the plan’s inception in 2014, the issues impacting the health of Boone County have evolved to include an increase in opioid use, racial tensions, and continued health disparities. Annually the CHIP has been updated to reflect progress made on each of the five identified strategic priority areas:
- Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods: How do we prevent crime and promote safe and healthy neighborhoods where people live, work, and play?
- Healthy Lifestyles: How do we create a community and environment which provides access, opportunities, and encouragement for a healthy lifestyle?
- Access to Health Care: How can we increase access to and utilization of comprehensive health services?
- Health Disparities: How do we address the root causes of health disparities to ensure health equity?
- Behavioral Health: How do we reduce the risky behaviors and the stigma associated with behavioral health?
As a result of the efforts made in the five strategic priority areas, residents of Boone County have been presented with a number of opportunities and programs to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Through the gathering of community input and robust data, the team learned health disparities were of concern in the community. As a result, Live Well by Faith, a wellness program for black churches in Boone County, was implemented. This program has found notable success, with participants losing weight and lower their blood pressures.
Another issue raised frequently among community members was the notion of increasing access to health care and establishing relationships with primary care providers. This knowledge of a community need led to the inclusion of an access to care social worker as part of the Live Well Boone County plan. However, the team struggled to turn the tide on this issue and the program ended.
Looking ahead to the next iteration of the community health assessment and updating the Live Well Boone County plan, team members look toward their common vision for guidance, “As our community is ever-changing, so must our assessment.” Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services senior planner, Rebecca Roesslet, explained. “In 2018, we will once again ask our residents how we can reach a vision of a caring and inclusive community where everyone can achieve their optimum well being. The information we gather during these next 12 months will shape our work moving forward.”