The City of Montgomery was recently recognized as a WeTHRIVE! community by Hamilton County Public Health. The WeTHRIVE! Initiative began in 2009 as a county-wide initiative to make healthy living easier. Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH) engaged schools, businesses, churches, elected officials and residents to address chronic disease by increasing access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities, while decreasing exposure to secondhand smoke. This collaboration resulted in numerous policy and environmental changes that will have lasting impact in our communities.
When approached by HCPH the City quickly saw the value of becoming part of the Initiative and at the end of 2014, City Council passed a Resolution in support of the collaborative effort. City staff assembled teams of staff members, City Council members, community residents and business representatives to identify pathways, or focus categories, that would serve and benefit the community. The pathways chosen were Chronic Disease and Emergency Preparedness. The respective teams have worked to establish two year action plans for each pathway that will provide education to the public and lead to healthier lifestyles.
What is the Chronic Disease Pathway? What can your community do to help prevent it? These are very good questions. Studies have shown that the prevention of Chronic Disease is not just a personal responsibility but that it is also an issue that communities face based on demographics of population, land usage, economic development, outreach programs and policies. Chronic Disease such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes are among the most common, costly and preventable of all health problems. Leading a healthy lifestyle greatly reduces a person’s risk for developing chronic disease. Access to high-quality and affordable prevention measures are essential steps in saving lives, reducing disability and lowering costs for medical care.
What can the City of Montgomery do in the prevention of Chronic Disease? The City has established an Action Plan to guide health and wellness activities in the community. Examples of objectives on this Action Plan are:
- Provide healthy food choices at the Municipal Pool Concession Stand
- Work with the Montgomery Farmer’s Market to accept WIC (Women, Infant, Child) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits
- Review tobacco policies in public playgrounds
- Offer activities for Senior Adults in the City
What is the Emergency Preparedness Pathway? How can your community help you to be better prepared in the event of an emergency? Emergency preparedness is the discipline of dealing with and avoiding both natural and manmade disasters. Public health emergencies can be a result of both natural and man-made disasters. Response to a public health emergency often includes the distribution of medicine to the community. Hamilton County communities have a partnership with Hamilton County Public Health to respond to these public health emergencies by establishing Points of Dispensing (POD) sites that provide medication to residents. The City of Montgomery signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August of 2010 agreeing to operate a POD site and has developed a POD plan that will be followed in case of a public health emergency. The City of Montgomery is very committed to being prepared for emergency situations both natural and man-made and like the Chronic Disease Pathway has established an Action Plan to improve the community’s capacity to respond in the event of a public health emergency and to educate residents for emergency preparedness. Examples of objectives on this Action Plan are:
- Review and exercise POD plans
- Train core staff to manage POD sites
- Recruit community volunteers
- Educate the community about individual preparedness