A plan released this week lays out strategies to reduce obesity and improve access to health services in the Tri-City area.
The Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance and the bicounty health district released the Community Health Improvement Plan on Wednesday.
The 41-page document was put together with input from more than 90 local leaders from the health care, social service, nonprofit and education worlds. It builds on a recent community health needs assessment and is "meant to guide the community towards better health outcomes," said Jason Zaccaria, health alliance president and Benton-Franklin Health District administrator, in a news release.
The needs assessment -- the first one in the Tri-Cities since the mid-90s -- identified obesity and access to health services as top local health issues. About 48,000 people in Benton and Franklin counties are uninsured, and last year the Tri-Cities ranked No. 9 among metro areas in the country for obesity according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the release said.
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The plan sets goals in both of those areas and lays out specific ways to meet them.
For example, in the area of access it calls for actions from conducting "at least two community presentations that increase awareness about emerging health models" by the end of 2014 to doubling the number of dentists providing free care to the uninsured by the end of 2015.
When it comes to promoting healthy weight, objectives range from doubling the number of participants in the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce's Good Health is Good Business campaign by August 2015 to seeing that the annual soda expenditure per household in the two counties drops below the state average by the end of 2017.
The objectives come with specific tactics, and in many cases local agencies have been identified and agreed to take the lead in tackling them.
Carol Moser, executive director of the health alliance, said that improving the health of the community makes economic sense, noting -- for example -- the effect a less healthy population has on insurance costs. It's also about quality of life, she said.
"We want everybody to be healthy in our community. Being healthy has everything to do with quality of life. The healthier you are, the better quality of life you're going to have," she said.
The full report is available at www.bfcha.org.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; email@example.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald