Health needs assessment sets ambitious agenda

Recently, an assessment of community health needs was completed by Morrison County Public Health, Morrison County Social services and St. Gabriel’s Hospital. The study is a worthy attempt at addressing some of the biggest impediments to county citizens’ ability to live long, happy lives.

The plan sets out under three goals an ambitious total of 21 objectives to be achieved in the next three years. The three goals are:

1. Reduce the impact of chronic illness (specifically diabetes, COPD and heart disease).

2. Reduce the percentage of individuals (both adults and youth — 9th to 12th grade students) who are overweight and obese.

3. Reduce the impact of mental illness.

The objectives under these goals in many cases require only that the incidence of disease or unhealthy behavior be reduced a percentage or two in order to reach the state average. For example, reduce the percentage of youths smoking tobacco from 11 percent to the state average of 10 percent. And reduce the percentage of individuals with diabetes from 8 percent to the state rate of 7 percent.

As difficult as it is to get people to change deeply imbedded habits, some of the objectives are as simple as increasing the percentage of people being screened for diabetes from 86 percent to the state rate of 88 percent.

Other objectives will require partnering with others in the county, such as the schools, to increase the percentage of high school girls who are physically active at least 30 minutes five or more days per week from 46.5 percent to the state average of 49.9 percent.

Long-term, the best way to reduce unhealthy lifestyles is to address adverse childhood experiences at an early age, instead of letting children go uncounseled for years. Short-term, however, vigorously pursuing the objectives outlined in the assessment will help at least some of those damaged early in life to regain the happiness and health they need to live productive, long lives.

  • robin hensel

    It is most unfortunate that the assessment says nothing of the real root of the health problems…..POVERTY. Why not? Think about it community.

    • Rick Witte

      Robin although poverty is a leading contributor to poor health it in no way prevents those living in or near poverty from living healthy lifestyles. Nothing forces those in poverty from smoking or drinking. Poverty does not prevent those from exercising. To imply that removing poverty will, in of itself, lead to greater health is off the mark.

  • lfc

    As mayor what do think you’re going to about it? Shut down camp Ripley. Being one of the biggest employers in the community. Ask the people who barely get by that have jobs to continually give to those who don’t. Along with most of little falls here is the biggest question why do you want to represent a community that you obviously don’t like? I certainly did not intend to get off the subject of the article and for that I do apologize.

    • Rick Witte

      From reading Robins commentary it is apparent that she really has not illusions of becoming Mayor of Little Falls. It seems that her real goal is to play the spoiler in the election. siphoning away enough votes to ensure that Mr. Zylka takes the prize. In a way, and uncoordinated way, Jody and Robin are merely shilling for Mr. Zylka.

      From my overhearing of a conversation last weekend it puts the question in my mind as to whether Mr. Zylka really wants to be Mayor or is he seeking the office merely as a stepping stone for a run for another office in two years. Granted this is much the rumor as it is unverifiable, but the persons talking about it seemed to believe it to be fact. Putting this together with Jody’s earlier rumor that Cathy would run for the Alderman at large seat makes me wonder if this is the case. I guess at the forum someone should ask him if it is his intention to run for another office in two years.

      • robin hensel

        Come on Richard Witte……you seriously doubt my sincerity?? Try to keep up. Fact is that Ann March stated at a meeting of the LFARCT that POVERTY HAD TO BE ADDRESSED by the county in order to receive the federal health care act $$$. Do your homework. Oh maybe you weren’t at that meeting? How in the world would you gather from my comment addressing this county’s obvious ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM(POVERTY)….that I wasn’t serious about my mayoral run. You sir, are just simply inaccurate and ill-informed….as always.

        • Rick Witte

          Robin, if you would notice I was responding to Ifc’s inquiry of you. I stated my opinion, which was not based on your commentary. Please pay attention.

          While you certainly may well be serious in your advocacy for the poor that does not translate into being a serious contender for the office of Mayor. It is essentially a two person race with an also ran tagging along. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it. Granted you have a differing opinion as you are entitled to , but that takes nothing away from mine.

  • josh

    When it all comes down to it the parents are where good morals and habits need to be formed.