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Community Health Advocates Identify Health Priorities In Sedgwick County


Health professionals in Sedgwick County are making progress on developing a new Community Health Improvement Plan. KMUW’s Deborah Shaar has an update on the process.

The health leaders used a county-wide health assessment and community feedback to identify five broad priority areas that affect the health of Sedgwick County residents: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, physical environment and infant mortality.

Within each area, priority health factors have been identified. For example, in a physical environment, severe housing problems, limited access to healthy foods and access to recreational facilities have an impact on the health of a county resident.

Factors in health behaviors are obesity, teen birth rates and tobacco use prevention.


The five priority areas will be used to create the three-year Community Health Improvement Plan, a roadmap of strategies to address the biggest health concerns in Sedgwick County.

Becky Tuttle of the Health Alliance says the Community Health Improvement Plan being developed will focus on system-level changes to address key factors in priority areas.

"We don’t want to just think about programs and activities," Tuttle says. "We want to think about how can we look at our system in our community that better supports health and creates a culture of health."

Tuttle says several work groups have spent the past few months discussing the key factors in each priority area and evaluating current activities and future needs.

"What are we doing in the community that’s working? What do we need to keep doing in our community to see future success, and what new activities need to happen?" Tuttle asks.

Leaders of local health systems and agencies began working on the community health process in March. The steering committee includes Health Alliance, Medical Society of Sedgwick County, Via Christi, the United Way of the Plains, Wichita State University and KU School of Medicine-Wichita.

Tuttle says the Community Health Improvement Plan is expected to be released in early October and implemented in January 2017.

The county-wide health assessments are done once every three years.

The 2013-2015 Community Health Improvement Plan focused on five priorities: access to health care, obesity and diabetes, oral health, mental health and health disparities.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.