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MAPP pushes forward with next phase
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Betty Dixon, director of nursing for the Coastal Health District, and Russ Toal, GSU public health associate professor, answer a citizen’s inquiry about suicide. - photo by Photo by Calli Arnold

With more information in hand about the state of Effingham County’s health, volunteers in the local Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships project are beginning preparations to enter its next phase.

MAPP participants held a town hall Tuesday night at Blandford Elementary and met again at the County Administration Complex Thursday to compile findings and discuss ways to address their five focus areas, which Georgia Southern University professor of public health Russ Toal said they perceive as “a threat to the economic viability and the health of the community.”

At Thursday’s meeting, the groups reviewed survey results that MAPP and the county health department have distributed for several months to members of the community asking them to prioritize those areas.

Co-chair of the smoking, drugs and alcohol workgroup Bonnie Dixon said that the ranks were as follows from most to least important according to those surveyed: teen suicide and injury prevention; access to preventative health services; teen pregnancy; smoking, alcohol and drugs; and, finally, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and special needs services.

Dixon and others were surprised at how low some of the more severe and prevalent health risks were ranked.

Of obesity, Dixon said, “It’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.”

The workgroups are now deducing ways to address and mitigate the severity of health challenges facing Effingham. Moving into the next phase of the MAPP process, they will present their findings and suggestions to officials throughout the county.

“We’re going to be inviting the county commissioners and Jack Hill, Ann Purcell, Buddy Carter and all those to a meeting where we tell them what the state of Effingham County families’ (health) is,” Dixon said.

This presentation is expected to be at the end of September.

MAPP is a program developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control that encourages citizens to consider local health issues and develop ways to ameliorate them.

Faculty and staff, particularly Toal, at GSU’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health were awarded a grant for health planning projects and decided to install MAPP programs in Effingham and Bulloch counties,

“Our job is really to assist, not direct, and I must say, we’ve been very pleased with the eagerness with which the folks in Effingham County have grabbed this concept and run with it,” Toal said.

The next MAPP meeting will be another luncheon, open to the public, at the County Administrative Complex on Aug. 12 at 11:30 a.m. followed by an Aug. 26 meeting at the same place and time. Anyone from the community is welcome to attend, listen, learn and give their input. For more information, contact Cindy Grovenstein, nurse manager at the Effingham County Health Department, at 754-9752.