On August 18, 2015, Hancock Regional Hospital (HRH) hosted a discussion to explore how Hancock County can positively impact our state and become the #1 place people want to live, work, learn, play, and pray in Indiana. The purpose was to explore the Blue Zones® concept, and determine if Hancock County was ready to shift our culture toward making the healthiest choice the easiest choice. Ultimately, the feedback from this conversation determined we are ready to make a change, but a more local approach would fit best our community’s needs.
In January, 2016, HRH hired a Healthy Community Coordinator to focus on building a coalition of diverse partners working to ensure Hancock County has neighborhoods, public spaces, work environments, transportation infrastructure, and retail venues that all promote physical activity and healthy living. In keeping with the need to develop a movement with an Indiana-flair, we have decided to partner with the Wellness Council of Indiana (part of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce) to achieve the designation of “Indiana Healthy Community.” In fact, we have already completed and submitted the application for consideration, and the results are in!
As a community, Hancock County has many healthy attributes to tout. Our local smoking ordinances exceed Indiana’s current laws, we have low crimes rates and safe places to gather, as well as excellent infrastructure and school systems. We also have good career opportunities, and an educated workforce. At a state-wide level, we are ranked 6th/92 counties for health outcomes, and 5th/92 for health factors, which basically means we have we have a great start to building a culture where getting healthy, staying healthy, and making sure our children grow up healthy are top priorities.
The annual County Health Rankings (www.countyhealthrankings.org/indiana) measure vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income, and teen births in nearly every county in America. The annual Rankings provide a revealing snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play; most importantly for us, they provide a starting point for change in communities.
Using the results of the County Health Rankings and the feedback we received from the Indiana Wellness Council questionnaire and inventory, we now have some short-term and long-term goals to improve our rankings locally and nationally.
Check back with us next week for part 2 that discusses our short and long-term goals. Until then we will continue to try and make healthy choices the easiest choices.