GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Health Department has recognized major concerns of residents in the community as part of its continuing accreditation process and is planning ways to address those needs as it approaches a July 1, 2020 deadline.
As part of Ohio Revised Code section 3701.13, all Ohio health departments must be accredited by the 2020 deadline. Accreditation will make health departments more universal in their techniques and services provided. The department is seeking accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board, a nationally recognized nonprofit.
As a part of health assessment surveys, health department employees identified access to care and substance abuse as being the preeminent concern of Gallia citizens. The department is nearly completed with its community health improvement plan with a few more factors needing completed and approved, according to Accreditation Coordinator Brittany Hively.
According to colleague Accreditation Coordinator Tyler Schweickart, focus concern areas are also measured against state averages as the health department examines its efforts along the ability to impact the focus areas.
Health department workers have discussed strategies to raise the number of residents who have a primary care provider. The health department aims to create awareness programs to better inform residents of where primary care providers are found. According to both coordinators, the department also collaborates with other local area organizations to direct residents towards how to meet their needs. Department workers have discussed aiding in this by also creating an informational document listing primary care provider choices, locations and associated information.
The health department is also part of the Gallia County coalition for Citizens for Prevention and Rehabilitation in its struggle against substance abuse. The organization is compromised of behavioral health experts, law enforcement, government agencies and concerned citizens seeking to make an impact against addiction. The department also collaborates with the Center for Public Health with Ohio State University’s College of Public Health.
“We have a fluid document,” said Schweickart. “It’s a living plan that we will adjust as needs come forward. We bring in as many stakeholders as we can to get a bunch of different viewpoints.”
To tackle substance abuse, the department plans to engage in mass media campaign to direct county residents to service providers and resources to combat addiction. The department will potentially court the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of American in order to foster mentorship programs for struggling youth.
Both coordinators emphasized the importance and appreciation for working with community organizations.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.