MOUNT VERNON — Information gathered from the 2011 Knox County Community Health Assessment will now be put to use in the coming months through a Community Health Improvement Plan. The Knox County Health Assessment Partnership, comprised of representatives from numerous local agencies, conducted the assessment as a way of identifying community strengths and areas of concern.
“I think we learned that we can address our needs better working together than we can in silos. There was a real sense of unity and meaning in having us all work together on the issues,” said Knox County Health Commissioner Julie Miller. “Now comes what we’re going to prioritize.”
Miller described a combined effort as the planning process known as A3 that is being followed for the CHIP which has been used at Knox Community Hospital and is widely used in private industry. “We can’t just focus on the needs; we need to continue to maintain the strengths we have and apply the two together,” said Miller.
Participating as a key player in the assessment and CHIP is Jen Odenweller, executive director of the United Way of Knox County, who outlined the individual stages of the A3 formula as being Background, Current State, Future State, Analysis, Countermeasures, Plan and Follow-up. “After you analyze the research you’ve done and the pieces you’ve brought in, you dig down and ask why 10 times and find a root cause,” said Odenweller. “We’re at the point where we’re drafting countermeasures and making a long-term plan and looking at checkpoints to see if we’re on track.”
Three separate work teams will be working on the plans throughout the CHIP process, bringing their countermeasures to a larger group for feedback. “Our goal is by the end of the year to have countermeasures in place and prioritized out which we will be focusing on this next year,” said Miller.
One issue of example Miller cited which can be addressed through the CHIP is that of obesity. Once the concern is identified, strategies of prevention can be implemented. This may mean incorporating volunteers to go into schools to measure the body mass index of students or to promote exercise programs. “We want to use our strengths to help address the needs,” said Miller.
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