UT involved in Healthy Lucas County collaboration | UToledo News

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UT involved in Healthy Lucas County collaboration

The University of Toledo is part of a Healthy Lucas County collaboration to improve the well-being of the region.

Healthy Lucas County will host a community forum Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon at the United Way of Greater Toledo, 424 Jackson St., to release its 2015-2018 Community Health Improvement Plan. A community walk will follow.

“Everybody has a stake in the community health improvement plan,” said Ann Mary Mercier, a public health consultant for the Medical Technical Assistance and Policy Program Health Access Initiative in the UT Department of Psychiatry. “The community is invited to attend the forum because they are our target population. These are the people we want to focus on. It is such a large document, and we want to make it accessible to everyone.”

Healthy Lucas County is concentrating on five priority health issues in the 2015-2018 Community Health Improvement Plan:

• Increasing healthy weight status.

• Decreasing heart disease and other chronic diseases.

• Decreasing youth mental health issues and bullying.

• Decreasing infant mortality.

• Increasing school readiness.

Mercier is specifically involved with working on an action plan to promote healthy weight. The work group she serves on is looking to increase the amount of nutritional and physical activity information that physicians provide to their patients.

“This is the first community health improvement plan where there are detailed steps with targeted goals,” Mercier said.

As part of her involvement, Mercier also is focusing on reducing chronic disease through increasing recruitment for nurse practitioners and physician assistants in Lucas County. How can nurse practitioner/physician assistant recruitment be improved? Can tuition incentives be offered?

With the help of Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach, UT associate professor of educational psychology and expert on bullying and school violence, Mercier also is exploring mental health issues in Lucas County youth. Both UT employees are gathering baseline information about mental health screening tools that help detect early signs of mental illness.

Pescara-Kovach also is involved in gathering information on anti-bullying programs being implemented in schools. The hope is to increase the number of health-care providers who are making recommendations for depression and/or mental health issues. Additionally, she is conducting workplace violence threat assessment, mental health awareness, and suicide prevention and intervention training for ProMedica beginning in September.

The Healthy Lucas County collaboration is coordinated by the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio and includes ProMedica, Mercy, The University of Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, the Neighborhood Health Association and many other community partners.

The Sept. 15 forum is free, but reservations are requested in advance to sheavesj@co.lucas.oh.us. Forum registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

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