More drug treatment, healthier food are part of county health plan

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Ashley McCallum
Thursday, October 12, 2017

JANESVILLE -- Rock County by the end of 2020 should have 25 percent more providers offering medication-assisted addiction treatment and 10 new sites providing access to healthy and affordable foods, according to a new community health improvement plan.

Those are among the goals in the 2017-20 Community Health Improvement Plan released Wednesday by the Health Equity Alliance of Rock County. The plan is based on a recent Community Health Assessment.

Four areas that need the most improvement are health equity, behavioral health, obesity and oral health, according to the plan.

The assessment gathered community input through one-to-one interviews with community members, community group conversations and a survey.

About 1,400 people participated in the survey online or by mail, according to assessment documents.

Participants reflected Rock County demographics largely because of online access to the survey, said Kelly Klingensmith, community health education coordinator for the Rock County Public Health Department.


When asked to rate the overall health of Rock County, 53 percent of participants said they viewed the county as “somewhat healthy,” 2 percent considered the county “very unhealthy” and 2 percent considered it “very healthy,” according to the assessment.

Participants were asked to identify the top five health problems in their communities from a list of 21 health concerns. The top five were drug abuse, alcohol abuse, obesity, mental health and cancers, respectively.

Twelve individuals were interviewed in one-to-one conversations.

Interviewers asked individuals what concerns they had for the community, what have they seen change over time and what they like most about the county.

From the conversations, the alliance learned behavioral health, oral health, racism and the economy were issues people found to be prominent in Rock County, according to the assessment.

Individuals interviewed said they enjoyed the “close-knit” feeling that Rock County provides and felt the county has strong schools.


Members of the Health Equity Alliance used results of the Community Health Assessment to determine how to focus the three-year improvement plan.

Each priority area has its own list of objectives and goals.

Health equity

-- Goal: To reduce disparities and improve health across different populations and communities

-- Objectives: By December 2020, 50 providers will have a process in place to ensure culturally responsive care and five healthcare facilities will have a process in place to improve health literacy

Behavioral health

-- Goal: To increase community engagement to improve behavioral health outcomes

-- Objectives: By December 2020, 25 percent of municipalities will work to address local alcohol-related problems, decrease to 15 percent the number of women who smoke during pregnancy and increase by 25 percent the number of providers offering medication-assisted addiction treatment.


-- Goal: To advance overall community health to improve health issues related to obesity

-- Objectives: By December 2020, 10 new sites will provide access to healthy and affordable foods, increase to five new sites that offer physical activity to people with limited resources and increase or establish 20 sites with wellness procedures and policy

Oral health

-- Goal: To advance overall community health to improve oral health

-- Objectives: By December 2020, achieve a 10 percent increase in the number of children who visit the dentist before 2 years old, a 10 percent increase in adults with a dental home and a 15 percent reduction in oral health related emergencies

Klingensmith said the alliance's goal is not to defy the odds against health-related issues in the county but to change the odds.

To address specific priorities, the alliance will rotate topics at their monthly meetings to focus specifically on the four areas of concentration in the improvement plan, Klingensmith said.

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