Archive for Saturday, September 1, 2001

Groups hope to chip away at poor health

September 1, 2001

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A group of 15 health and social service organizations is working to improve the quality of life in Douglas County.

The Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP) is based on a national effort that identified 10 top health concerns in the United States, said project coordinator Susan Anderson.

"The CHIP leadership group decided those indicators are also concerns here in Douglas County, so CHIP adopted those goals with the idea of working on each of those issues," Anderson said. "And because 10 is quite a lot to undertake, we're working on five issues right now."

Those five are obesity, physical activity, immunizations, access to health care and tobacco use prevention.

The project is under way with a $100,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. The CHIP group plans to track its progress through survey responses.

"In 1998, we did a behavioral risk factor survey," Anderson said. "It measured things like physical activity of Douglas County residents and how many people are being immunized. We want to eventually do another survey to compare how we're progressing."

Seven task force groups are planning health improvement efforts for the five issues.

"We have three (groups) working on different areas of tobacco and four working on the other issues," she said.

Nearly 100 community members are involved in CHIP, but Anderson hopes that number will continue to climb as the project develops.

"We hope to change as many lives as possible," she said. "Any reduction we'll be happy with, any steps toward these goals will show some progress."

They hope that future surveys reveal health improvements in the community.

By 2010, the group hopes to reduce the percentage of obese adults in Douglas County from 21 percent to 15 percent. They also hope to increase the number of adults who take part in regular physical activity from 26 percent to 30 percent.

"The reason these issues are so important is because they are the underlying causes of cancer and heart disease," Anderson said.

The 15 organizations working on the project believe that collaboration is powerful.

"It's a way to work together to be more effective," she said. "It also provides a forum for the representatives of these health organizations to meet and talk about what's going on with health in the county.

"As a group all those people can review and analyze the issue, look at our resources in the county and also look at how other communities have approached these issues."

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