Health forum assesses needs

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — Representatives of more than a dozen social service organizations discussed Shelby County’s health needs during a forum led by consultants for the Community Health Needs Assessment, Tuesday, April 24, in the Amos Memorial Public Library, here.

The assessment, a tri-state effort in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana, by the Health Collaborative and the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, gathers information every three years about what a county’s top health needs are, how health can be improved and what the barriers to health are.

Forum facilitators Tomika Hedrington and Robyn Reepmeyer led participants through a series of questions to determine the information. They also distributed statistics comprising the tri-state and Shelby County health snapshots.

The local snapshot used five years of data and showed that 32 percent of Shelby County’s population is obese; 18 percent are smokers; there are 24 deaths per 1,000 people due to breast cancer, 55.3 due to lung cancer and 185.1 due to all cancers; 11 percent are diabetic; 44 percent of driving deaths involve alcohol, a number that is greater than the average in the state and the nation; 14 percent of the population are children in poverty; a quarter of the population is under 18; and there is one dentist for every 4,050 people in the county. The state average is one dentist per 1,660 people.

The statistics also show HIV prevalence and increasing instances of sexually transmitted diseases.

Forum attendees listed mental health, obesity, pediatric care, drug addiction, poor nutrition and lack of education about health and alternative therapies as the biggest health issues in the county today.

Participants noted that too many local health care providers, especially mental health providers, don’t accept Medicaid or other insurances. Even when popular insurance plans are accepted, too many providers won’t take new patients.

“They’re maxed out,” said one person.

The need for dentists who will fix children’s teeth, lack of monitoring for hepatitis C and a dearth of adult leadership in terms of health care were named as problems that need to be addressed.

Some of the discussion centered on the possibility of employers incentivising healthy habits and decentivising poor health choices. A lengthy dialogue concerned how much addicts in recovery have to say, “No,” to in order to remain clean.

“There are resources for people who want to change, but within three steps you run into someone (who wants to drag you back down),” someone said.

The barriers to health care that were named included high insurance deductibles, transportation, state and federal unfunded mandates, past due medical bills and limited urgent care hours.

Hedrington said the final report of the assessment will be posted online in early 2019.

Organizations who would like to participate can fill in an online survey at

Individuals who would like to participate can fill in an online survey at

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.