BLUE EARTH, Minn. (KEYC) — Health officials in Faribault and Martin Counties find chronic disease and obesity are among high risk factors in both counties.
Now, a new coalition is addressing that and more.
Every five years, the Community Health Services conducts a health assessment that looks at topics like chronic disease, overweight and obesity, mental health, safety and more.
When that’s done, the next step is to create an action plan that addresses priorities in the two counties.
“So thinking about how are we going to impact adverse childhood experiences? How are we going to impact things like diabetes and heart disease? And what are some ways that we across the community can collaborate?” said community health administrator Chera Sevcik.
The local WIC program is a part of this collaboration, known as the Community Health Leadership Coalition.
The coalition is made up of 30 different individuals from across both counties addressing the topics covered by the assessment.
“Some other things that we’re working on that might have some overlay with WIC include adverse childhood experiences, substance abuse and mental health issues. We’re also thinking about things like access to health care and dental. Dental is one area in particular that we really struggle with in rural Minnesota. And so having the ability to do things like fluoride varnish treatments through WIC clinics helps seal those kids’ teeth up for any future cavities," Sevcik said.
WIC staff are also involved in the actual assessment itself.
“So we’re able to ask them, what are some things that you’re seeing? What are the biggest health concerns that your population is experiencing? What are some of the resources available for that community?" Sevcik said.
Data from 2017 from the Minnesota Department of Health found both Faribault and Martin Counties fall into the medium to high level in WIC children who are determined to be obese.
In Faribault County, 25 out of 150 children in WIC are determined to be obese.
In Martin County, that number is 44 out of 248.
According to Lauren Schofield, a public health nurse with the local WIC program, one message the initiative wants to drive home is the importance of breastfeeding.
“We know that there are lower obesity rates in children where there are higher breastfeeding rates, so I would say one of our biggest focuses right now is how do we help pre-natal moms start thinking about breastfeeding?” Schofield said.
Sevcik said when clients come in to be served by WIC, they look at what their individual needs are.
“So we’re looking at things that we can help refer them to in the community," she said.
For more information on resources, you can look here.
WIC participants can also receive information on local resources when they visit their local WIC office.