Somersworth, April 13, 2015 – A series of meetings and focus groups will be held to gather additional data about Strafford County’s most pressing public health concerns. The meetings will be held by the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council (PHAC), whose purpose is to develop and implement a range of public health improvement activities to address the many factors that influence health as identified in the County Health Rankings.

Strafford County public health region ranks as one of the worse counties for health outcomes and health factors in New Hampshire in the recent annual County Health Rankings, released in March, 2015 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). Strafford County ranked eighth out of the ten counties for health outcomes, which measures how healthy a county is, and eighth for health factors, which look at the influence on health in any given county.

Strafford County’s PHAC is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Bureau of Public Health and is made up of community leaders, local health and public health entities, concerned citizens, and experts who make up the public health system in the region. The PHAC has already determined Strafford County’s five top health priorities as: Substance Misuse: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery; Mental Health; Obesity and Nutrition; Emergency Preparedness; and Heart Disease and Stroke.

“We are currently in the process of developing improvement plans for each of our top five priorities,” said Melissa Silvey, Director- Public Health and Prevention at ONE Voice for Strafford County and Goodwin Community Health. “Our goal is to engage community partners to align resources and leverage coordinated efforts to improve the overall health in Strafford County by establishing common health priorities. Ideally, we also will engage hospital stakeholders to align the community health needs of our two hospital service areas, Frisbie Memorial and Wentworth Douglass Hospital, and ensure more targeted resources to increase Strafford County’s health outcomes in the next 3-5 years”.

The following meetings are scheduled and open to the public to address Strafford County’s top health concerns:

  • As part of the Emergency Preparedness focus of the PHAC, new members are welcome to join the Emergency Preparedness Taskforce which will be meeting April 14th 8:30-10:00am at Goodwin Community Health.
  • Substance Misuse: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery focus has launched a Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Roundtable which will host its next meeting April 17th 8:30-10:00am at Goodwin Community Health.
  • Focus Groups: Focus groups will be held with seniors, school nurses, incarcerated men and women, young disenfranchised adults and college age students to gather additional data about Strafford County’s most pressing public health concerns. If interested in hosting a focus group on one or more of the identified priorities to be addressed by the CHIP please contact Melissa Silvey,Director of Public Health and Prevention at (603) 516-2562; email info@onevoicenh.org.

About County Health Rankings
County Health Rankings help illustrate the relationship between key health factors and key health outcomes, so that advisory councils are more informed to make decisions about how to effectively improve the health of their region.
The rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include a snapshot of each county in New Hampshire with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. Researchers looked at the length and quality of life to determine health outcomes. Health factors included measures of health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
About the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council
For more information about the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council, including a list of contacts, visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/rphn/documents/rphncontactlist.pdf

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