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    Louisville Community Health Data Site Wants Your Contributions
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    Getting more members of the community involved in moving the metro area toward the health goals laid out earlier this year in the Healthy Louisville 2020 plan is part of the goal of a new website, HealthyLouisvilleMetro.

    The 2020 document sets measurable goals and objectives to make Louisville a healthier city by 2020, based on national, state and local data. Focus areas range from access to health care, to HIV prevention and screening, to injury and violence prevention. Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt are using what they call a “health-in-all-policies” approach, which says that “when health and well-being are considered by all sectors of our community in planning and policy development, it leads to improved health for all,” according to the Healthy Louisville 2020 planning document.

    The Healthy Louisville Metro site is designed to present data as it is collected in usable formats for both health professionals and the general public, and to collect data on any and all health-related efforts that will contribute to the final tally of results.

    Elements like the Community Dashboard, organized around the stated priorities, will track our progress over the next six years. Dr. Nesbitt told me the design came from the work of the Healthy Communities Institute. “They specialize in creating these websites that can be used as tools in data collection, measuring progress on key health indicators, and serve as a one stop shop for collaboration and knowledge on best practices, evidence based programs, and funding opportunities to improve health,” she said.

    Contributions from the community will play a key part: “HealthyLouisvilleMetro.org is an excellent opportunity for individuals and community partners to help achieve our collective goals for health -- in both big and small ways. We invite anyone working on improving health in Louisville to TELL US – it is the only way we’ll know.  ALL efforts are appreciated. People can contribute content – work they are doing in one of the focus areas, promising practices, funding opportunities, events - directly through the website,” explained Dr. Nesbitt.

    To contribute content, including promising practices, reports, articles or events, anyone can use the site forms provided.

    Why do we need to pay attention to these measures of public health? Dr. Nesbitt said we need to keep moving forward over the long term: “Louisville faces many health challenges:  In spite of a comprehensive smoking ban and many years of efforts to change social norms, many Louisvillians still smoke. Lung cancer still remains a top five cause of death for us. Chronic diseases related to obesity, specifically cardiovascular diseases, are also among the top five causes of death. We didn’t get unhealthy overnight and it will take a while for us to change so that we are a culture committed to health and wellness but we think we’re making great progress. We have a mayor with a top priority of making Louisville a healthier city for everyone. The Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement celebrated 10 years this year and it continues to unite the community around improving health and wellness. Improving health takes everyone working together – government, businesses, education, nonprofit groups, and more. We now have a shared community plan with specific focus areas, target measures and recommendations where we can all find a piece that’s important to us, join in collaboration with others, and work together to better our collective health.”

    And of course, health care providers always play a key role: “In Louisville, we’ve also done a great job at enrolling people in health insurance, thereby getting them access to care. As a community, we need to educate everyone on the importance of having a medical home, a health care provider who can see you and guide you through the ages and stages of life, as well as the appropriate places to go for care (for example, not to the Emergency Room for an ear infection). And most importantly, how to use health services to focus on prevention – staying healthy or detecting problems early. Health care providers have a role too by ensuring patient centered care,” she said.

    What’s next in getting the public involved? Dr. Nesbitt says that in January of 2015, the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Community Coalition reconvenes. A series of workshops will cover using the “health-in-all-policies” approach across the community, and all will be invited to attend.

    Photo: Shutterstock Copyright: Creativa Images

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    About Kachina Shaw

    A transplanted Hawkeye, I've now lived in Louisville longer than any other city. Can't live without: my husband and fur babies, coal-black coffee, peanut M&Ms, sunflowers, monthly vacations, books, walking paths, massage and a big purse.

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