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Plans underway for a healthier Jefferson County

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The Jefferson County Department of Health, along with numerous other local agencies, are working to reduce the percentage of residents who are obese. A big part of that initiative is better access to healthier foods and education on the right choices to make. (Stock photo)

Special to The Times

The Jefferson County Department of Health, along with numerous other local agencies, are working to reduce the percentage of residents who are obese. A big part of that initiative is better access to healthier foods and education on the right choices to make. (Stock photo)
The Jefferson County Department of Health, along with numerous other local agencies, are working to reduce the percentage of residents who are obese. A big part of that initiative is better access to healthier foods and education on the right choices to make. (Stock photo)

The goal of Community Matters 20/20: Assessment, Visioning and Planning for a Healthy Jefferson County is to identify the county’s public health concerns, strengths and assets for addressing concerns and collectively implementing strategies to improve community health and quality of life.

The group is led by a Steering Committee chaired by Jefferson County’s Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson and comprised of community leaders who have developed the following vision statement for Community Matters 20/20:

“Jefferson County Alabama is an inclusive, thriving community of healthy and connected people.”

Some partners include Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama, Alabama Arise; City of Birmingham; Community Food of Central Alabama; Healthy Food Choices Priority Group, REV Birmingham’s Urban Food Project PEER, Inc. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Preventive Medicine and UAB School of Public Health,

The plan was most recently updated in 2015 and several goals have been completed. Those include:

  • Increasing the number of Alabama producers selling locally grown produce in the Birmingham Metro area. That has been completed with the help of REV Birmingham ‘s Urban Food Project, Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH).
  • Reaching vulnerable populations with the Urban Food Project by assisting child care centers in sourcing locally grown fresh produce that better meets nutritional guidelines and Jefferson County Department of Health regulations.
  • Conducting a comprehensive health and social services needs assessment survey by the UAB School of Public Health throughout the community. Results from the needs assessment have been published in “Living LBGTQ in Central Alabama: Priorities for Action.”

Here are the five Strategic Issues for improving health in Jefferson County, AL approved on Aug. 15, 2014, the Community Matters 20/20 Steering Committee:

  • Reduce Health Disparities Associated with Race, Ethnicity and Economic Status
  • Promote Physical Well-Being through Healthy Lifestyles
  • Optimize the Built Environment, Transportation System and Safety
  • Optimize Healthcare Access, Availability and Utilization
  • Improve Mental Health

Here are some goals and strategies with each issue.

Strategic Issue 1:  Reduce Health Disparities Associated with Race, Ethnicity and Economic Status.

Goal 1.  Decrease the percentage of households living at less than the 200% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) from 35.8% to 30% by November 2019.

  • Strategy 1.  Create economic development opportunities in the areas of Jefferson County with the highest poverty levels by November 2019.
  • Strategy 2.  Invest in education to provide educational and skill development opportunities.

Goal 2. Reduce the percentage of Jefferson County residents experiencing food insecurity from 18.3% to 17.4% by November 2019.

  • Strategy 1.  Increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamp program) from 15.8% to 16.6% by November 2019.
  • Strategy 2.  Increase the distribution of locally grown foods by November 2019.
  • Strategy 3.  Increase the number of food retailers in low income food desert areas in Birmingham purchasing fresh produce through the Urban Food Project’s distribution system from 3 food retailers to 10 food retailers by December 2015.
  • Strategy 4.  Decrease the percentage of Jefferson County census tracts considered food deserts from the baseline of 28% to 26.6% by November 2019.

Goal 3. Reduce the current disparity in life expectancy between the white and black populations by 5% by November 2019.

  • Strategy 1.  Increase public and provider awareness of the need to address inequities in health outcomes and health care delivery by November 2019.
  • Strategy 2. Reduce Jefferson County’s infant mortality rate for black infants from 15.5 per 1,000 live births to 14.73 per 1,000 live births by November 2019.
  • Strategy 3. Increase the percentage of Jefferson County residents reporting hypertension by 5% from 37.9% to 39.8% by November 2019 to better reflect actual disease prevalence.
  • Strategy 4. Decrease the disparity in Diabetes mortality between the black and white populations by 5% from 24.9 to 23.7 per 100,000 population by November 2019.
  • Strategy 5.  Develop and implement strategies for reducing health disparities experienced by Hispanic and other minority populations by November 2016.

Strategic Issue 2:  Promote Physical Well-being through Healthy Lifestyles

Goal 1. Reduce the percentage of Jefferson County residents who are obese based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Body Mass Index definition of 30.0 or greater for adults and 95th percentile or greater for children:

A. Decrease the percentage of obese Jefferson County adults from 34.8% to 33.0% by November 1, 2019.

B. Decrease the percentage of obese Jefferson County children from 21.2% to 20.1% by November 1, 2019

  • Strategy 1.  Increase the availability and access to nutrition education by November 2019.
  • Strategy 2.  Increase access to healthy food by November 2019.

Goal 2.   Increase leisure time physical activity within the past month among Jefferson County adult residents from 66.6% to 70% by November 1, 2019.

Goal 3.  Increase the percentage of Jefferson County residents protected by comprehensive indoor smoke-free policies from 39.1% to 50% by February 2019.

  • Strategy 1.  By February 2019, advance the adoption of comprehensive indoor smoke-free policies protecting a minimum of 50% of county residents.
  • Strategy 2.  By November 2019, a minimum of one public or nonprofit rent-restricted multi-housing agency in Jefferson County will adopt smoke-free policies restricting smoking in individual units, including balconies, patios and common areas.

Goal 4.   Decrease the percentage of Jefferson County adult residents reporting smoking from 20% to 18% by November 1, 2019.

Strategic Issue 3:  Optimize the Built Environment, Transportation System and Safety.

Goal 1.   Improve availability, access to and maintenance of trails, sidewalks, parks and other public recreational facilities by November 2019.

  • Strategy 1.  Increase the community’s awareness of the availability of parks, trails and other public recreational facilities through November 2019.
  • Strategy 2.  Increase Jefferson County residents’ awareness of mechanisms for reporting needed maintenance to trails, sidewalks, parks and other public recreational facilities through November 2019.
  • Strategy 3.  Birmingham City to submit the Sustainable Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities (STAR) Review by December 2014.

Goal 2.   Improve the availability of and access to reliable public transportation by November 2019.

  • Strategy 1.   Increase the community’s awareness of public transportation options beginning November 2014.
  • Strategy 2.  Implement and increase utilization of Birmingham’s Bike Share program by June 2016.
  • Strategy 3.  Improve Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) bus on-time performance beginning November 2014.
  • Strategy 4. Implement the Birmingham Comprehensive Plan related to public transportation through November 2019.
  • Strategy 5. Convene a workgroup for a regional transit system roundtable by January 2015.

Goal 3.  Adopt built environment policies and enforce ordinances adopted by November 2019.

Strategic Issue 4:  Optimize Healthcare Access, Availability and Utilization

Goal 1.   Increase the communication and utilization of health status monitoring data by providing key monitoring outcomes to community stakeholders beginning November 2014.

  • Strategy 1.  Increase the communication of results from health monitoring activities by November 2019.
  • Strategy 2.  Consider the results from health monitoring activities in policy development as documented by development notes and resulting draft policies beginning November 2016.

Goal 2.   Increase access of Jefferson County residents to primary health and dental care by November 2019.

  • Strategy 1.  Increase the number of primary care providers and dentists who accept Medicaid by 5% by November 2019.
  • Strategy 2.  Increase the provision of primary and dental health care services to underinsured and uninsured residents through the safety net system of Federally Qualified Health Care Centers, Cooper Green Mercy Health Services and the Jefferson County Department of Health by November 2019.
  • Strategy 3.  Link Jefferson County residents without primary and dental health care coverage to available and appropriate health insurance providers by November 2019.
  • Strategy 4.  Increase the percentage of age appropriate adults receiving a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy based on national recommendations from 75.5% to 76.1% by November 2019.

Strategic Issue 5:  Improve Mental Health

Goal 1.   Increase the availability of and access to mental health services for children and adults by at least 10% from current rates by November 2019.

  • Strategy 1.  Increase the community and local public health system’s access to information regarding mental wellness, mental health resources, diagnosis and treatment as measured through the tactics listed below by November 2019.
  • Strategy 2.  Increase the capacity of community health workers and lay leaders, such as parish or church nurses, educators and PTA representatives, etc., to recognize and address mental health concerns through the provision of training programs such as Mental Health First Aid by November 2019.

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