MONTICELLO - Commissioner of Health and Family Services John Liddle said he was working on a plan to improve Sullivan County's health ranking and, on Thursday, he presented a first version of that …
MONTICELLO - Commissioner of Health and Family Services John Liddle said he was working on a plan to improve Sullivan County's health ranking and, on Thursday, he presented a first version of that plan.
The county currently ranks 61 out of 62 in the statewide Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.
It's based on a variety of health factors such as length of life, quality of life, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
Liddle said he worked with his office and other community organizations to create the plan, which focuses on the primary areas of concern.
“These are the ones where we can really dig into these problems and get them solved, to some extent,” Liddle said. “It is going to make a bigger impact on the health ranking improvement.”
These areas of concern are: number of primary care providers, mammogram screening, injury deaths (which includes suicide and drug overdoses), post-secondary education, income inequality, child poverty, adult smoking, adult obesity and physical inactivity.
The areas fall under four “E's”: Ease access to care, End the opioid crisis, Enhance communities and Encourage healthy behaviors.
Through these four categories, Liddle hopes to work with key players that run the spectrum from agency-led to community-led to find solutions.
“We're going to take programs and projects that are already underway… and prioritize certain items,” he explained.
For instance, they are already working with Sullivan 180 on the Empowering a Healthier Generation campaign, and with the Substance Use Task Force to combat opioid use and overdose death.
“The [opioid crisis] is our most urgent concern, that's public enemy number one,” Liddle said.
Another big area of concern is generating more affordable housing, and Liddle is working with the Planning Department, Action Towards Independence and others.
“The more access we can get people to affordable housing and childcare the less stress on their pocketbooks, and they can devote more money to disposable income,” he said. “That helps us bridge the income inequality and child poverty issues.”
Liddle said they will also be focusing on education in the community, specifically post-high-school. He said they will work on increasing trades training via adult education at BOCES or at SUNY Sullivan and have education meet workforce demand.
Taking all of the health factors into account, Liddle said he will present a more-detailed plan next month that will include metrics that they hope to meet.
He said this will be a multi-year project working with community partners and organizations and they plan to invite the public to give input.