The Steering Committee for the Peoria County Community Health Improvement Strategic Planning Initiative recently completed a 12-month community health needs assessment. This strategic planning effort is being facilitated by the Peoria City/County Health Department and has resulted in the identification of four priority community health issues that should be addressed to improve health in Peoria County. The identified priority strategic community health issues include: obesity, oral health, reproductive health and community health system collaboration.
The community health improvement needs assessment process was guided by a local steering committee representing Peoria County’s system of medical providers, social service agencies, civic organizations, elected officials and local health department staff. The needs assessment process included the evaluation of population health data, an assessment of the local community health system, a determination of Peoria County’s resources to improve community health and an appraisal of future factors likely to affect the community’s health.
A brief description of the selected priority community health issues follows:
- Obesity has been increasing in prevalence and was recently identified as a priority community health issue in the State of Illinois’ Health Improvement plan. Thirty percent of Peoria County adults are classified as obese, which is significantly higher than the 25-percent adult obesity rate for the state as a whole. Obesity is preventable and contributes to a wide variety of acute and chronic health conditions that reduce the quantity and quality of life.
- Oral health was selected as a strategic issue because healthy teeth and gums are recognized as important to overall well-being. Poor oral health contributes to other significant health problems such as premature birth and infant mortality. Dietary factors were recognized as common contributors to obesity and poor oral health. A critical issue in Peoria County is that many citizens lack access to, or don’t make effective use of, preventive dental care and treatment.
- Reproductive health was recognized as a strategic community health issue because premature births, infant deaths and sexually transmitted infection rates, together with recent increases in teen births, are concerns that need to be addressed for the well-being of our community. There are significant disparities in the groups affected by these reproductive health issues within our community. Persons with sexually transmitted infections are more than 10 times more likely to be African-American, depending on age group and disease. This influences the disproportionate rate of premature births among African-American women. Also, Peoria’s African-American infants are at least four times more likely than white infants to die between their first month and first birthday.
- Systems integration is necessary to address priority community health issues. The intent is to better develop the health system infrastructure to encourage collaboration among area medical providers, hospital systems, social service agencies, elected officials, the business community and public health organizations.
The Steering Committee is now forming subcommittees to be charged with developing specific plans to address these strategic priority community health issues, identify interventions, work with other community partners and evaluate measures of progress.
An overall goal of the entire process is to maintain the involvement of all of the community health system partners while assuring commitment to achieve measurable results that make a difference in the health and lives of Peoria County residents.
For more info about the Community Health Improvement Plan for Peoria County, call (309) 679-6090. To view the completed assessments or for more info on other public health issues, visit pcchd.org. iBi