HHCC talks future for HRSA, healthy food going into school year

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Henry County Healthy Communities? first meeting of the 2018-2019 fiscal year was spent recapping the programs they have invested in and their vision for the year ahead.

The year marked the first year of the HRSA grant, a $1 million grant over three years. After a slow start as HHCC board members learned more about the grant and what they could use the funds for, the HRSA Action Team is developing programs to catch people who fall through the cracks in the health care system.

So far, the HRSA grant has funded software for Family Medicine that alerts health care providers when a patient is overdue for a checkup in an effort to invest in preventive medicine. Transportation was also identified as a top need, and HRSA has funded two years of free medical transportation on SEIBUS, including appointments for mental health, substance abuse, vision, dental or to pick up prescriptions. RSVP also received assistance for mileage reimbursement for their medical transportation program.

Returning from a trip to San Francisco to attend a conference on HRSA, HHCC Director Kelly Carr said she learned a lot on every session of the two-day conference that will help set them up for year two.

One of the programs underway is a care coordination program through Public Health. The pilot project will assist mental health clients who fall through the gaps by first gathering data on what they need and then identifying services available to them.

Overall, HCHC board President Anita Hampton said HRSA has been an amazing opportunity to make a big impact in Henry County. ?Even though we didn?t exactly know how to drive the bus down the road (at the start),? Hampton said, praising the work of the HRSA Action Team.

In addition to talking about HRSA, the HHCC board celebrated their success at the Henry County Fair a few weeks ago. Carr recapped HHCC?s healthy eating booth at the Henry County Fair, where they sold wraps, salads, chocolate covered bananas and other healthy items.

While eight years ago when HHCC started their booth the healthy food was seen as a joke, Carr said it is now expected.

Paul Dennison, HHCC board member who worked the healthy food booth this year, joked that he was embarrassed to be serving healthy food. This year, however, he noticed that when they walked through the doors, instead of turning right for hamburgers and brats, customers now turn to the HHCC booth.

The push for healthy food continues as the school year begins and HHCC members look for ways to promote fewer sugary snacks in the classrooms.

Elise Klopfenstein, HCHC dietitian and HHCC board member suggested substituting sugary snacks for other sweet treats like fruit. When it comes to soda, she suggested substituting soda for carbonated flavored water.

In other news, HHCC received a $750 Alliant Energy grant for Daddy Boot Camp, a quarterly ?camp? that teaches soon-to-be, new dads and reminds grandpas how to care for a new baby.

The board also welcomed new members for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, who shared why their organization fits into HHCC?s messaging.

Ryan Pilling, with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department, is taking Police Chief Ron Archer?s spot on the board, bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community.

Chris Betsworth, with Hillcrest Family Services, is stepping onto the HHCC board because of his role with community mental health.

Jennifer Streigel, a nurse in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District, works with students and many organizations that serve students and families.

Laurie Klopfenstein, a newly retired fourth grade teacher born and raised in Mt. Pleasant was looking for a way to give back to the community by joining the HHCC board.

Finally, Lori Bolin, with Public Health, is a voice for Public Health on the HHCC board in addition to working on the HRSA grant.

Bob Griffith is joining the HHCC executive committee.

The next HHCC meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 4.