Franklin County health assessment points to prevention

SHAWN HARDY, The Record Herald shardy@therecordherald.com

Six percent of the adults in Franklin County eat three servings of vegetables a day. About 110,800 people don't.

Seventeen percent of the adults in Franklin County exercise for 30 minutes a day five days a week. More than 97,000 people don't.

More than 75,000 adults in Franklin County are obese or overweight.

And 61,000 of the 118,000 adults in Franklin County experienced depression symptoms in a one-month period in the fall of 2015.

That's the data based on a survey of more than 500 adults done in October and November 2015 for the Countywide Needs Assessment to evaluate the health and health care needs of local residents.

The findings of the assessment by Summit Health and Healthy Franklin County were presented recently at a healthy community planning forum held at Antrim Brethren in Christ Church near Greencastle.

The most signifiant areas of concern are associated with obesity, mental health and health care access.

The assessment is required every three years by the Affordable Care Act, but the legislation doesn't really provide any direction so "we can choose what's best for us," said Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College, who presented the findings.

He advocated a focus on prevention over treatment "to prevent wasted lives and wasted dollars."

Healthy Franklin County

Healthy Franklin County was formed after the 2012 Countywide Needs Assessment highlighted critical areas of concern as nutrition, mental health, access to health care and education.

The work of Healthy Franklin County and the cross-section of community organizations, agencies and health care providers represented at the forum is "a journey, not a stop-and-start process," said Ann Spottswood, director of community services for Summit Health. She applauded the tireless efforts of everyone in the room and said, "This community is great because of you."

Healthy Franklin County established a mission and vision and set up task forces on nutrition, education, mental health and access to health care.

The goal is "to align resources and work together to improve the health and well-being of all Franklin County residents," according to a forum handout.

2020 Healthy People Goals

The 2020 Healthy People Goals for Franklin County presented at the forum are:

• Physical activity

Increase the number of adults who do aerobic physical activity at least 150 minutes a week and do muscle-strengthening activities two or more days of the week.

• Access to care

Increase the number of people with medical insurance and the number of people with a regular health care provider.

• Nutrition

Increase the vegetables in the diets of people 2 and older

• Mental health

Reduce the number of adolescents who experience major depressive episodes and reduce the suicide rate.

"The key take-home is prevention. Just 30 minutes a day of walking, plus increased fruits and vegetables could change your health and quality of life," said Barbara Rossini, vice president for community relations at Summit Health.

The day also included a keynote speech by Mark Fenton, a national public health, planning and transportation consultant; Andy Mowen, a Franklin County native and professor of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State; and breakout sessions.

For more information, visit HealthyFranklinCounty.org