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Town hall focuses on health issues in Effingham


 The Effingham County Parks and Recreation Department held a town hall meeting last week to talk about the community’s health.

In coordination with the Effingham County Health Department and Georgia Department of Public Health, the Coastal Health District hosted the meeting with the purpose of gaining an understanding of various health issues that may affect the everyday lives of residents.

Led by District Health Director, Lawton C. Davis, it was presented as an open forum where participants were welcome to ask questions, share perspectives and learn about any current activities that are focused on improving the health of residents.

In regards to why he thought the forum was needed, Davis said, “We want people to speak out. We want to get a snapshot of what it looks like right now in the community based on the data and based on what citizens feel and what their leaders are telling us.”

Since January, the Coastal Health district has been working with leaders across the local community to develop a Community Health Assessment. Through a series of meetings, the leaders were able to identify critical issues that would need to be addressed in order to guarantee a healthier county in the future.

 The assessment is comprised of information obtained from health data sources, community surveys, and interviews with community advocates in an effort to gain a fuller understanding of those issues that may affect the health status of Effingham County residents.

This assessment is organized through the MAPP Framework, which stands for Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. Among the four different assessments included within the process is the Community Themes and Strengths Assessment which included sending out the surveys and conducting interviews with key officials.

 The Local Public Health Assessment is composed of a scoring system that rates how well public health services are being delivered across local areas, while the Community Health Status Assessment is a process that analyzes online data and statistics related to common health factors such as disease and death. Lastly, the Forces of Change Assessment indicates whether any possible shifts in political stances or policy are accounted for that could affect future health initiatives.

All of this gathered information will immediately lead into the Health Improvement Plan. This is where the Health District will decide which issues actually need to be addressed and ultimately begin routes of action.

Together, the Health Assessment and Health Improvement plan are meant to ensure all possible local input is insured.

“In Effingham we’ve gotten back over 500 surveys so that makes me feel better about getting responses from people in the community because leaders don’t always see the daily issues that people are having,” Davis said.

Once the assessment is completed, all of the documents will be made available to the public.