The Richmond County Board of Health received an update on its long-term Strategic Plan this week from staff.
Ten goals are outlined in the plan with several actions for each.
The first goal is to make sure all residents are prepared in the event of an emergency. Brochures and booklets were developed to mail to all households in Richmond outlining items like creating an emergency kit or storing water. The kit will also be available on the department’s website. Grant funding was secured to purchase, publish and post the booklets to the roughly 21,000 households in the county.
The second goal is to reduce the number of residents who use tobacco products or are exposed to secondhand smoke by 5 percent. Letters were written to local legislators asking for an increase in the tobacco tax, and the agency will continue to support efforts to enforce the ban on smoking in restaurants and bars that was passed in the state in 2011.
The department aims to improve the health and well-being of all adolescents in Richmond, by reducing childhood obesity by 5 percent, increasing the number of adolescents who receive immunizations by 10 percent over four years, and reducing the infant mortality rate by five percent in the same time frame. A quarterly newsletter is sent to parents with articles on nutrition and physical activity. Immunizations are promoted through clinics at schools. Pregnant women are encouraged and educated to abstain from smoking, drugs and alcohol as well as after the baby is born.
Also as part of this goal, the agency aims to reduce the pregnancy rate among 15-19 year old adolescents by 15 percent and reducing the number of high school students who use tobacco products by 5 percent. The department strives to provide family planning services at hours convenient to teens. Equipment has been purchased and installed to provide educational programming about the dangers of tobacco use on community channel 16, but the matter has not been further addressed.
Elective immunization will be used to prevent illness, death and disability in adolescents and seniors by raising the immunization rates by 10 percent. As one facet of the effort, the health department provides vaccines through public clinics.
Several measures are called for to improve the health of all adults, like increasing the number of men 40 and older who receive an annual prostate exam by 10 percent. A partnership is in development with Richmond 2020 to promote the exams.
The plan calls for a qualified workforce that must be developed and maintained through continuing education. One measure calls for a quality control coordinator to review each employee’s continuing education log to ensure they have completed all mandatory training.
The department is striving to reduce the disparities in health between the county at large and at risk populations. A web page has been established with health information for minorities that includes links, education and data.
Part of the plan calls for increasing access information. The agency is working on establishing social networking pages like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.
As part of the updates made in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the agency keeps brochures updated.
Finally, the department will try to minimize or eliminate residents exposure to biological, chemical or physical hazards now and in the future. For example, information has been sent to new and existing landowners regarding wells and/or septic systems.
For more information, visit the health department’s website at www.richmondnc.com/dept_health.aspx.
— Justin Allen can be reached at 704-694-2161, or email@example.com.