Miami-Dade County health improvement plan in works
Written by Katherine Lewin on May 8, 2018
The Miami-Dade County Health Department is working on its own updated county-wide health assessment in response to the State Health Improvement Plan, released in April, that seeks to hit 18 goals in improving Floridians’ health.
Miami-Dade’s updated Community Health Improvement Plan should be finished by the end of 2018 as the previous one expires, with a new five-year plan released by the middle of 2019, said Karen Weller, director of the Office of Community Health and Planning for Miami-Dade.
The assessment, called the Community Health Improvement Plan, uses health indicators to monitor how individuals are or are not participating in local healthcare.
Health indicators are a wide range of factors that can be measured, from how many women are getting prenatal care in their first trimester to the number of individuals getting mammograms to check for cancer. Each of these indicators is monitored and responded to by local agencies and the offices in the county health department that work with them.
Over a five-year period, each State Health Improvement Plan is meant to improve the health of Floridians.
The State Health Improvement Plan has eight areas of priorities for the next five years, selected using the State Health Assessment, released in September 2017. These eight areas include health equity, maternal and child health, immunizations, injury, safety and violence, healthy weight, nutrition and physical activity, behavioral health, sexually transmitted and infectious diseases and chronic disease prevention. The eight priorities have 18 separate goals the state is attempting to meet by 2021.
The Miami-Dade Health Department is working with and within the community to complete the new assessment and then work on the county’s updated goals together, Ms. Weller said.
Ms. Weller’s office is specifically in charge of inputting health indicators into its system, but different programs also contribute to adding and monitoring health indicators. Every office within the county health department is in charge of pieces of both the State Health Improvement Plan and the Community Health Improvement Plan.
“So many different agencies help contribute to one particular indicator. If we need to change strategies we do so and we meet on a quarterly basis,” Ms. Weller said. “Different members within our health department and different coalitions and groups within the county all work together, so that our voice is there so we can have health included in all policies. We’re hoping that everybody is going in the right direction.”
For example, the Miami-Dade Health Department brings together leaders from area hospitals to work with its offices to make sure in the event of an emergency that both the local government and healthcare providers can work together.
In the area of chronic disease management, the Consortium for a Healthier Miami-Dade brings together a coalition of agencies. The same is done with the rest of the State Health Improvement Plan’s eight priorities, with the Miami-Dade County Health Department tailoring it specifically for the county’s needs.
The county health department zeroed in on five topic areas in the Community Health Improvement Plan as major focus areas from the State Health Improvement Plan’s larger list. The health department has been working on these topics for the past five years: health equity, chronic disease prevention, healthcare disparities, mental health and infectious diseases.
As the health department has continued with the new assessment for the upcoming five-year plan, Ms. Weller said mental health once again stands out as a major factor affecting residents, including substance abuse and the opioid crisis, which is simultaneously sweeping through the rest of the country.
As Miami-Dade’s Community Health Improvement Plan expires this year, Ms. Weller reflected on the gains made over the past five years of work and collaboration.
“We still have work to do, but people are being more conscious of what they’re eating. For example, in child care centers and schools you see that they’ve made great strides to include healthier options. The Parks and Recreation Department has put healthier options in the vending machines,” Ms. Weller said. “More people want communities to be developed for active lifestyles like building walk-able communities with more trails and bike lanes.”
Goals in the upcoming Community Health Improvement Plan will focus on improved mental health and making sure that everyone has the same access to quality healthcare, regardless of life circumstance. Ms. Weller said her personal goal is to have nutritious meals for all.
“We want everybody to have access to healthcare. There are some people who are in a better position to have that and others don’t. We want to give resources to those who need it,” Ms. Weller said. “Anywhere in the county, they should be able to feel safe and benefit from being able to eat, walk and be stress-free in their immediate environment.”