Activate highlights community approach to health

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Activate Allen County provided an update of its programs, as well as insights into some of its future goals in housing, suicide prevention and children’s health, during an online community stakeholder meeting held Tuesday.

The 45-minute presentation featured multiple local officials from the group’s various members laying out some of the larger problems they are hoping to address in the community in the next few years as part of its Community Health Improvement Plan.

For example, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board CEO Tammie Colon highlighted the relation between suicide and drug use to talk about some of the local efforts to reduce suicide rates. They include recruiting behavioral specialists, increasing the availability of Narcan and trying to target prevention among youth.

In the same vein, Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center President Ronda Lehman discussed what’s being done to address high obesity rates in the community, Lima Chief of Staff Sharetta Smith talked about the city’s efforts to tackle substandard housing stock, West Ohio Community Action Partnership CEO Jackie Fox explained lead poisoning abatement and Lima Memorial Health System Director Jeff Lutz tackled the need for increasing the low rates of wellness visits for children.

Outside of particular programs, however, the overall presentation largely focused on the need for community partners to come together before substantial progress can be made.

United Way of Greater Lima CEO/President Derek Stemen, for example, used the metaphor of “Belgian plowhorses” to explain how multiple horses working together can pull much more than they ever could working alone. The same idea was echoed throughout the presentation.

“Although we’ve made progress, we still have a long way to go. I truly believe that our community can and will come together to make even more progress,” Amy Marcum, Activate Allen County board chair, said.

As for the overarching areas that Activate Allen County will focus on in the future, they are substance abuse and mental health, chronic disease prevention, maternal and infant health, and housing and public transportation.

Presenters also emphasized the need to provide equitable solutions for such issues as public health problems impact varying populations in different ways.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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