Health officials in Santa Rosa County have announced a plan to improve the overall health of county residents. The plan was first announced last year and has been reviewed and revised. Joann Vanfleteren, Operations Review Specialist for the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County says the state DOH created an initiative for for community health improvement planning. All 67 Florida counties are required to create the Community Health Improvement Plan.
Health officials and community leaders analyzed Santa Rosa County's current and future health situation and concentrated on three areas: Tobacco use, obesity and access to care.
Overall in access to care, Santa Rosa ranks 31st among Florida's 67 counties. Vanfleteren says one of the main issues the county has is people using the emergency room for primary and dental care. She says the community health improvement committee will continue to study both the cause and possible solutions to this problem.
The issue of obesity is being tackled in the schools with the Let's Go Northwest Florida 5-2-1-0 program. Vanfleteren says this approach was used because the 5-2-1-0 program is an evidence based plan that already existed so start up costs were minimal. She says the plan in important because nearly 70% of the population of Santa Rosa County is either overweight or obese.
On the issue of tobacco use in the county, they are offering cessation classes for county residents as well as programs in the schools. Joann Vanfleteren says there are not only health arguments to be made against tobacco use but also economic ones.
The Community Health Improvement Plan is a partnership with the state Department of Health and members of each individual county. Now that year two of the initiative is underway those programs will have more time to take root and produce results. The Florida Department of Health's Joann Vanfleteren says the assessments of these efforts will continue throughout the next 12 months and another annual report will be announced near the end of 2015.