Finding ways to improve the health of an entire community is no small task, but Hancock Health’s Healthy Communities Coordinator Danielle Daugherty is casting a wide net to get the job done.
Earlier this year, the hospital created the position to view community wellness as an integrated whole, looking toward preventative alternatives for chronic diseases and conditions across entire groups of people in addition to enhancing clinical advances.
Heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, obesity and some cancers are among Hancock County’s leading health concerns. To counteract the devastating effects of those chronic conditions, Daugherty is gathering data and laying the groundwork for a broad effort that seeks to change the way people think about diet, exercise and other means of living healthier lives.
Equally as important, the push for a healthier community will look at methods to ensure healthy lifestyle choices are easy to make and readily available for area residents. Healthy food options at grocery stores, walkable communities that encourage an active lifestyle and schools and businesses that are committed to healthy settings are just some of the components involved in “changing the environment,” Daugherty said.
In addition to promoting and providing healthy alternatives, the initiative, called Healthy365 hopes to link the community’s broad based social network of churches and non-profits to unearth and address some of the underlying contributors to poor health.
“Maybe the reason someone is not recovering well is because they don’t have a car and can’t get to the therapist,” she said. “Maybe there are financial issues and stresses. Maybe they can’t afford the pharmacy. We need to look at people as whole entities and at their root causes.”
By knotting the wide variety of area resources together, Healthy Communities Healthy365 can serve as a referral, information and resource center for those in need, ensuring they don’t fall through the gaps. Finally, Healthy365 will improve results by bringing individual interests together in a unified effort toward a common goal: Better health for everyone. Working well, but individually, Daugherty said, leaves a lot of cracks to fill.
“People are doing great work, but if they are doing it alone, we miss a lot of opportunities,” she said. As a result, Daugherty is pulling together a consortium of stakeholders from almost every area of the community: workplace and business, school systems, local government, non-profit and civic organizations as well as area faithbased groups to address the issues.
Long-term health requires long-term commitment, and Healthy365 is here for the long haul. “This is an initiative that is here to stay,” Daughtery said.
For more information about Hancock Health’s Healthy365 Healthy Communities initiative, contact Amanda Everidge.