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IA County Studies Why Residents Don't Get the Healthcare They Need

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Monday, October 31, 2022   

Johnson County, Iowa, is on a fact-finding mission - to determine what its residents need most for a good community health program.

The county is receiving a $125,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look at barriers that prevent people from getting the health care they need.

It might be a lack of transportation, high costs, lifestyle choices, or limited access to medical care.

Once they pinpoint the barriers, Sam Jarvis - Community Health Division manager for Johnson County Public Health - said the county can work on a plan to address these non-medical factors that can affect a person's health.

"We know that there are a lot of folks who have barriers to care," said Jarvis, "whether it's transportation, cost, insurance. It's difficult to have good health if you're housing insecure, if you're food insecure. There are so many other areas that we refer to as the social determinants of health."

On the website 'CountyHealthRankings.org,' Johnson County is already considered one of Iowa's healthiest. But more than one quarter of the adult population is considered obese.

Smoking, inactivity and "excessive drinking" also are listed as concerns.

A healthier population can end up saving tax dollars for the county. Jarvis says there's a lot to dig into to figure out which personal and environmental factors can enhance - or inhibit - peoples' chances to thrive.

"Really getting a snapshot of health in our community," said Jarvis. "What are the issues that are affecting people's health? Our community partners and community members mention things like the cost of housing. Mental health, obviously, is a high priority to many, especially after the pandemic. So, those are things that we're seeing come up in conversations that we're having right now."

The grant is being used to create a leadership team from different sectors of the county to collaborate on how to help Johnson County residents who are disproportionately affected by chronic disease tied to social determinants of health.

Only 40 counties across the country received the CDC grants.





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