Health board adopts strategic plan
The Caldwell County Heath Department’s strategic plan for 2012-14 was adopted by the county’s board of health during its meeting Thursday night.
The plan centers around three goals — to improve the health status and prevent premature death for residents of Caldwell County; to increase public awareness of health programs and services offered by the county’s health department; and to improve the efficiency of the department’s operations.
In 2011, the county conducted the Community Health Assessment that outlined four areas of concern: Tobacco and substance use during pregnancy, teen pregnancy, high school dropouts and obesity in adults and children.
The objectives outlined in the strategic plan to improve health and combat premature death in the county are to increase the percentage of adults getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderately intense exercise and to increase the rate of adults who report they eat fruits and vegetables five times or more a day to 29.3 percent; according to the 2011 health assessment, that figure stood at 20.6 percent. The department hopes to achieve this goal by June 2013 through partnerships with the county Cooperative Extension, local farmers markets and churches and the WIC program. It’s hoped that low-income families receiving food assistance will be able to shop at farmers markets and use their benefits to gain better opportunities for healthy eating.
Caldwell County Pathways is taking the lead on the initiative to increase the amount of exercise by January 2014. The Caldwell County Master Plan calls for the construction of two additional walking trails and increase accessibility to spaces for physical activity.
The health department also aims to reduce the percentage of teen pregnancies by 4 percent through education and outreach programs facilitated by the health department, the school system, the Department of Social Services and the faith community. Current data from the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics shows that the rate for teens ages 15-19 is 58.5 per 1,000 births and 1 per 1,000 births for girls ages 10-14.
Increasing the number of Caldwell students completing their education is the focus of a collaborative effort between the school system, the health department, Communities in Schools, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute and other organizations. The “Why Try” program helps students overcome challenges and helps improve truancy rates, behavioral problems and academics. All students in grades 4-12 — a total of 8,687 students — will receive at least two curriculum modules.
The plan also aims to increase public knowledge of programs and services offered through the health department and providing optimal customer service to people who use those programs and services. Local media outlets and various county web sites will inform the public about what’s happening, while training sessions aim to improve customer service.
The plan is available at www.caldwellcountync.org so the community can view it in detail and offer feedback. The plan is subject to annual review to address changing community needs as they arise.