Health Department receives 30K grant

Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

A new program that the Florida Health Department-Jefferson County is looking to implement aims to improve the cardiovascular health of local residents.
The initiative, which is being funded by a $30,000 grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is to raise public awareness of some of the risk factors to cardiovascular health that can be controlled, treated or modified.
These risks include high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, high cholesterol and tobacco use. It’s a well-established fact in the medical community that high blood pressure – particularly in combination with obesity, smoking and high cholesterol -- significantly increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Not to mention a sedentary lifestyle, another of the risk factors that can contribute to a heart attack or stroke.
The Monticello News recently discussed the initiative with Jennifer Johnson, who heads the department; Chelsey McCoy, a human services program specialist; and Pam Beck, the operations manager.
One thing the three emphasized is that the $30,000 in no way represents special funding for the department. Rather, the $30,000 is one of many block grants that the CDC regularly awards to different groups as part of its mission to promote public health and disease prevention and improve the nation’s overall health.  They also pointed out that the money has to be expended by June 2017.
With that in mind, the department’s staff recently met with community stakeholders to get a sense of what specific risk factors the initiative should address.
Among the ideas discussed were educating the public about the risks of high-blood pressure and placing self-monitoring equipment at various locations around the town, establishing a process so that individuals with high blood pressure can be referred to physicians for treatment, and bearing down on tobacco cessation messages.
The plan is to undertake the initiative in partnership with different community groups, clinics and physicians, and faith-based organizations to better disseminate the message and produce results.
In the end, Johnson says, it’s about educating the public and changing or modifying people’s behavior so that they adopt a healthier lifestyle, one that includes more nutritious food, exercise and regular activity, and controls or eliminates the risk factors.
Given the county’s small population, Johnson says, even if the initiative only moves the needle a little in term of reducing the risk factors, it would still represent significant improvement.
For more information on the program, contact McCoy at 850-342-0170, extension 1191.