During a presentation to Kershaw County Council during its July 9 meeting, LiveWell Kershaw Coalition Director Kathryn Johnson said the county’s new Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) takes what to do about the county’s health and wellness issues beyond just eating the right foods.
“When we look at what makes a healthy community, it’s not simply just eating a salad every day,” Johnson said. “That’s not what it’s all about; it’s not what our goal is here… We’re looking at health behaviors and social and economic factors at the forefront, which means we have to get creative in our solutions to addressing health, because it’s much more that just urgent cares popping up as it’s creating additional access points. It’s about addressing education, employment, income, family and social support, the law enforcement with community safety in addition to those common health behaviors we see in our community.”
Johnson, who spent the first part of her presentation outlining the process by which the CHIP was created, said the data used by the CHIP team came from within Kershaw County.
Some of that data dealt with life expectancy, which Johnson showed on a data map.
“As you can see, from one end of our county to the other, there is a difference of 10 years of life expectancy. I don’t know about you, but we put out (this) plan in about three months -- imagine what we could do if we had additional years of our life if we started addressing health in our community now,” Johnson said.
That 10-year spread spanned from a low of 69 years life expectancy to a high life expectancy of 79 years.
Noting that the county’s strategic plan, VisionKershaw 2030, includes a health component, Johnson went on to talk about the CHIP’s three major goals, two of which have already been modified to better reflect the desired outcomes. “Obesity” is now known as Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL). Mental health was renamed “emotional health.” “Access to care” was chosen as the No. 1 priority to focus on during a kick-off event in March.
During the month of April, three teams led by State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk (HEAL), County Planner Mike Conley (Access to Care) and SC Thrive Chief Strategy Officer Laurey Carpenter (Emotional Health) met three times to solidify the goals, objectives, strategies and metrics for each area. A feedback session with the wider CHIP group directly led to the publication of the plan, Johnson said.
“The work is not done on this three-year plan, so I just want to share a few highlights of items that are going on at this point,” she said.
For example, she said, the HEAL team is trying to push out the message that Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County is moving forward with Faith, Activity and Nutrition, or FAN, a program offered to Kershaw County churches and faith-based organizations to receive training on healthy behaviors and policies that can be put into place at their churches.
“That training in on July 27,” Johnson said; it will take place at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 19 Ward Road in Lugoff, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For Access to Care, Johnson said that team is revisiting a gap analysis map created two years ago by LiveWell’s primary organization, the Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County.
“It needs some updating to provide information to residents as well as providers and decision makers on where there are gaps in medical and mental health services,” she said. “So, we’ll be able to really pinpoint those areas in our community and address where the gaps exist and how to direct folks to where their care is in our community.”
Also, in January 2020, LiveWell Kershaw will bring a “poverty simulator” to Kershaw County so that those leaders and decision makers can “dive into implicit bias issues (and) gatekeeper issues.”
Meanwhile, the Emotional Health team is promoting a mental health first aid training session scheduled for September 19.
Johnson said the county’s role -- especially since VisionKershaw 2030 includes a health component -- would be in making sure issues are addressed now and in providing or helping to obtain in-kind support.
“Bottom line, when I showed that life-expectancy map, I think we can all agree that we want our residents to live a joyful, meaningful life to their full potential,” Johnson said. “If we address those issues now, we have the capacity to get there.”
The in-kind support the county already provides is meeting space in which to work on the CHIP and Johnson asked that the county continue to provide that space for the action teams as they move forward. As for VisionKershaw 2030 itself, she noted that the CHIP is actually “operationalizing” the health portion of the strategic plan.
“We are either on track to make movement on all of these (2030) health objectives … or we are already currently addressing them,” she said.
Johnson also asked council to consider using the CHIP data when making decisions about funding for organizations that come to the county for assistance. She ended her presentation by noting that the CHIP itself is available as a PDF document at www.livewellkerhsaw.org/2019-communty-health-improvement-plan/ (click on “Click here to view the plan” to call up the PDF.)
Council Chairman Julian Burns said the life-expectancy map would be a “motivator” on its own, but that quality of life is important as well.
“It would be insufficient just to have a secure environment with good roads and jobs and not take care of the wellness of our population,” Burns said. “This presentation is so core to what we mean as a county and what we think of ourselves.”
He went on to say that he hoped the presentation would be repeated at Camden City and Bethune and Elgin town councils, the Health Services District of Kershaw County, school district, chamber of commerce, and “anybody you can catch on the street.”
Burns also asked County Administrator Vic Carpenter to find a way to incorporate pieces of the CHIP into the county’s annual survey that leads into council’s budget process, which starts again in January.
Burns then read and called for a vote on a proclamation recognizing LiveWell Kershaw for its efforts, including its work on the CHIP.