A Healthy Hometown initiative for Davis County, powered by Wellmark and planned by local health care staff and interested individuals, is nearing implementation.

The Healthy Hometown program was sought out following the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) that indicated Davis Countyans considered chronic disease management and services a top priority in improving local health care. CHNA respondents were concerned about obesity, diabetes, preventive services, and health education in Davis County.

As Sue Pankey, Director of Nursing at Davis County Hospital & Clinics, was considering programs that could address the top-priority health care needs named in the CHNA, she learned about Wellmark’s Healthy Hometown initiative and brought in Wellmark officials to assist in implementing the programs that Davis County needs.  

Jim Cushing, Community Health Manager for Wellmark who is working with the Davis County group, said Wellmark implemented the Healthy Hometown program seven years ago when the industry realized health care would potentially be unaffordable in a few years.

“If health insurance costs continue to increase at the current pace, by 2028 they will rise by 110%,” Cushing said.  

Other statistics quoted by Wellmark as reasons for implementing preventive services follow:

• More than 30 chronic conditions are linked to obesity.

• 34% of Davis County residents are considered obese.

• 11% of Davis County residents have been diagnosed with diabetes.

• 75% of health care dollars are used to treat chronic disease.

• Iowa ranks fourth among the states in obesity with 35% of its population considered obese.

• Individuals can control 60% of the factors impacting their health by modifying their lifestyle choices.

The framework used by the Healthy Hometown program for modifying lifestyle choices falls into three categories: Eat well. Move Well. Feel good. The Davis County Healthy Hometown Committee is working within this three-part framework to devise a plan leading toward better health for the community.

After several months’ work, the committee has named several objectives in each category to be implemented beginning in 2020.

Eat well

In an effort to promote healthy eating habits, Pankey and her administrative assistant, Lisa Barrett, are contacting local restaurants about healthy options and sides, healthier children’s menus, and smaller portions.

DCHC Marketing Director Devyn Pitlick, Barrett, and a Bloomfield Main Street Representative plan to enhance Davis County’s Farmers’ Market by reviewing the schedule and operating rules for the market, increasing market promotion, asking for support from ISU Extension, and recruiting volunteers and civic groups for assistance with the market.

Pitlick is also working on increasing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) by expanding the Produce with a Purpose Program and adding Double Up Food Bucks.

The Produce with a Purpose Program delivers boxes of locally-produced food to certain worksites twice a week during the months of July through October. The cost is $15 per box. Davis County Hospital is one of the delivery sites.

The produce comes with a newsletter as well as recipes and storage and preparation tips. The boxes typically contain 6-10 different items — many well-known items along with a few new items. (Go to producewithapurpose.com for more information.)

Double Up Food Bucks may be used in conjunction with EBT cards at Farmers’ Markets or certain designated grocery stores. SNAP bucks are matched dollar for dollar — up to $10 — through this program. Consumers using the Double Up Food Bucks only pay 50% of the cost of fruits and vegetables.

The Eat Well group also plans to implement taste testing opportunities and cooking demonstrations in the future to promote healthy eating. Potential sites are farmers’ markets, grocery stores, food pantries, and the school.

Move More

John Schroeder of DCDC, Eric Bates of DCHC, and Supt. of Schools Dan Maeder are making plans to promote increased physical activity among Davis County residents by creating distance markings on the trail, creating maps showing distances along the trail, and providing physical activity education at community events. They plan to add bike rack locations and promote a bike rodeo with a bike helmet giveaway. School wellness policies will be reviewed and promoted.

This group also plans to review a 2014 Safe Routes to School Report, map safe biking routes to school, and conduct a walking audit.

The nearly completed trail and the West Sports Complex, which is under construction, were listed as important assets in getting the community to Move More.

Feel Better

The feel better goals are centered around mental and physical well being and creating healthier worksites.

Becky Zesiger, Director of Instruction for DC Schools, and Cheryll Jones, Pediatric ARNP, are working on tactics to strengthen well-being in the schools, Pankey and a Main Street representative will work toward offering programs for high-stress professions.

Wendy Barker, DCHC Pharmacist, and Wendy Thompson, Social Worker, are collaborating on a plan to create a socially connected and engaged community as they assess current opportunities and distribute and promote the use of the Community Resource Guide.

Barker and Thompson are also charged with promoting community opportunities for volunteerism and creating a volunteer recognition program.

Lisa McConnell of Sieda is offering vaping education in Davis County Schools.

Pankey said the committee needs to work toward getting businesses and local government to address policies on vaping. “The state will provide signage if the verbiage is correct,” she said. “Many people are getting concerned about the effects of vaping. We need to get more of the community involved in solving this problem.”

Pankey said the cooperation and teamwork of the community is needed to reach the goal of a a Healthy Hometown. She hopes the Eat Well, Move Well, and Feel Better groups will have plans made and be ready to begin applying for grants by the time the April 1 meeting rolls around.

Members of the Steering Committee for the Davis County Healthy Hometown Project are Jo Altheide, Wendy Barker, Lisa Barrett, Eric Bates, Jamie Beskow, Carol Burnside, Tierre Chickering, Rodney Day, Kathy Dooley, Lynn Fellinger, Gloria Garner, Brenda Johnson, Cheryll Jones, Karen Kincart, Dan Maeder, Amy Marlow, Shannon Munley, Sue Pankey, Devyn Pitlick, Melanie shaw, John Schroeder, Karen Spurgeon, Wendy Thompson, Staci Veach, and Becky Zesiger.