Ohio Department of Health director holds town hall meeting to promote healthy living

August 21, 2013 | News, UToday, Medicine and Life Sciences, UTMC
By Casey Cheap

The University of Toledo hosted Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health, for one of his town hall meetings being held across the state to discuss how to improve the health of Ohioans.

Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health, held one of 10 town hall  meetings on promoting health across the state on UT's Health Science Campus.

Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health, held one of 10 town hall meetings on promoting health across the state on UT’s Health Science Campus.

Wymyslo gave a two-hour presentation titled “Coming Together to Transform Health in Ohio” Aug. 8 in the Collier Building on Health Science Campus.

Welcoming remarks were given by David Grossman, the health commissioner of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, who introduced Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, chancellor, executive vice president for biosciences and health affairs, and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

Gold opened the health-care discussion by addressing the critical relationships between community health and wellness, and the education of health-care professionals.

“The evolving national focus on the accountability of the health professions community has become increasingly important,” Gold said. “It is no longer only about the individual patient relationship, but increasingly about how physicians, nurses and others take responsibility for the overall wellness of the communities they serve. This is why Dr. Wymyslo’s presentation is so important.”

Wymyslo, who was introduced by Dr. Linda French, UT professor and chair of the Family Medicine Department, told the audience that in order to curb health-care costs and improve the quality of health care, Ohio needs a strategic plan to curb tobacco use, reduce obesity, and decrease infant mortality rates, among other things.

Ohio is an “outlier” in these areas in the country, according to Wymyslo, usually ending up in the bottom half of states. The state is 47th in overall infant mortality rate in the country and 38th among white children and 49th among black children.

“It’s shocking when we have seven huge medical centers in Ohio,” Wymyslo said. “We are making this one of our top priorities to correct.”

In order to combat high infant mortality rates, the state has launched the Progesterone Prematurity Prevention Project, Only Ohio and the Safe Sleep Campaign.

Obesity prevention also is a priority for the state in the coming years, Wymyslo said, as obesity has been linked to diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis and depression. Ohio is ranked 38th in the nation for high obesity, with 33 percent of adults overweight and 30 percent obese, Wymyslo said.

Early childhood obesity specifically will be targeted as well with a focus on physical activity, healthier menus, and healthy habits from a young age.

Ohio has the seventh highest rate of tobacco usage among adults, is 11th in deaths attributed to smoking, and has the fifth highest youth smoking rate in the nation. The state wants to help Ohioans quit smoking, prevent residents from starting to smoke, and protect them from second-hand smoke.

Wymyslo said his goal is for “every Ohioan to have an established relationship with a personal health-care provider in a system focused on making health decisions that promote wellness and achieve high value.”

He and his staff answered several questions and then toured the UT Simulation Center with Dr. Pamela Boyers, vice chancellor and director of the Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center, and a former colleague. The director commented on the role of using simulation to make patient care “more standardized and much safer.”

Wymyslo’s presentation is available here on the town hall tour page.

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