Live Well Mohave: Community health initiative makes progress
KINGMAN – Environment, family and access to health care are just some of the components that contribute to the health of a community, all of which and more are roped into the Live Well Mohave initiative aimed at improving the health and quality of life of Mohave County residents.
Teri Williams, director of Communications and Marketing at Kingman Regional Medical Center, began the Live Well Mohave kick-off meeting with community members and organizations Thursday, July 15 by explaining how the effort came to be a decade ago. She said through the Affordable Care Act, hospitals were required to perform a community health assessment as well as a community health improvement plan. The Mohave County Department of Public Health had similar requirements. The health assessment has been completed every three years in 2013, 2016 and 2019.
“Rather than do separate assessments, we partnered to do this together,” Williams said. “We’re talking about the same community.”
The then-created community health assessment saw the gathering of statistics, facts and community input regarding local health needs.
“We’re looking at all different kinds of statistics and data, everything from traffic accidents to incidences of various chronic health conditions,” Williams said. “All of that is documented in a report called the community health assessment.”
The community was further engaged in the next step of the process to help identify health priorities of residents. Various community action committees were developed to address those issues, which include mental health.
“In the community health plan, and bringing the community together, one issue that the community feels is a huge issue is mental health and mental health care,” Williams said. “And so we formed a community action committee called the Mohave Mental Health Resource Team, and that team has been meeting monthly for several years now and dealing with issues having to do with mental health.”
Another already-established committee is the Mohave Substance-abuse Treatment Education Prevention Partnership created approximately 18 months ago. Law enforcement, community members, the health department, medical professionals and more are on board in addressing local substance-abuse disorders.
Mare Schumacher, epidemiologist for the county, identified big-ticket health concerns for Mohave County. She said the number one cause of death in Mohave County is cardiovascular disease followed by cancer. She also said 38%, or about four out of 10 residents, are obese. That can then lead to heart disease and diabetes.
“The third example is health care from a survey we did with 300 responses,” she continued. “We found a little over half of the people go to the doctor most often when they need medical care. The rest of the time they go to urgent care, a clinic, even an emergency room.”
And so three priority health areas for the county, according to Mental Health Resource Team Leader Sue White, are mental health, substance abuse and wellness, the preferred term over obesity.
Will McConnell, KRMC president and CEO, said the community as a whole needs to begin looking at how care is transitioned, moving away from what he described as “silos.”
“Those silos created situations where instead of handoffs and a coordinated effort to move someone through the health-care system, we end up with the individual having to figure out how to navigate,” he said. “If you’re sick and trying to navigate the health-care system, and its long-term care versus hospitals, you have to focus so much on getting the appointments (rather) than getting better.”
Along with that consideration, McConnell said another goal of Live Well Mohave needs to be livability, as it’s a “big deal” in terms of recruitment. He said another area of focus needs to be stigma reduction on mental health issues, such as suicide.
“A lot these things we just need to start coming together as a community more, and how does a community create an opportunity for everyone to live well,” he said.
Eve Ford of Eve For Consulting, hired for Live Well Mohave, said the upcoming step of community engagement to identify issues, and develop goals, strategies and actions, is important as it empowers the community to work together as a whole in developing powerful programs that maximize resources.
With health data gathered, action committees created and community surveys analyzed, community meetings have now been scheduled. Community members will review community health assets, discuss improvement plan priorities and weigh in on how to evaluate and monitor progress. Those meetings held in rural communities will gauge interest in creation of local community action committees.
Seven community meetings have been scheduled. The first is set for 2–5 p.m. July 22 in Colorado City at the El Capitan High School gym, and the second from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 23 at the Littlefield USD Governing Board meeting room in Beaver Dam. Next is the Bullhead City meeting from 9 a.m. to noon July 29 at the Suddenlink Community Center, with a meeting in Golden Shores that same day from 2–5 p.m. at the senior center.
The Kingman meeting is set for 8:30–11:30 a.m. Aug. 5 at the KRMC Hualapai Mountain Campus. Dolan Springs will also have its meeting Aug. 5 from 3–6 p.m. at the community center. The last meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in city council chambers in Lake Havasu City.
Following those meetings, data will be compiled in September, with the Live Well Mohave process concluding in October. Its directives are expected to be implemented by November.
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