Health

Linn County health officials identify priorities

Mental health, obesity and safety are key areas of focus

Linn County Public Health Director Pramod Dwivedi is photographed July 12, 2016, in northwest Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Linn County Public Health Director Pramod Dwivedi is photographed July 12, 2016, in northwest Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Public Health recently released its annual report for fiscal 2018, highlighting local efforts for the period.

The report touches on several items of note, including the ground breaking for the $31.5 million Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Public Health and Youth Development Services building in southeast Cedar Rapids, as well as awards and recognitions the department received.

In addition, the annual report also states the outcomes of initiatives public health officials took on in the past year, including environmental public health efforts and a community health program to decrease diabetes rates in Linn County.

To read the report, see www.linncounty.org.

Pramod Dwivedi, health director at Linn County Public Health, discussed it with The Gazette.

Q: What are your thoughts on the past year?

A: I think there were pretty significant accomplishments. We drafted our Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan. It’s really the partnership we have created among our community partners — nonprofit organizations, social welfare groups, churches, all kinds of people came together to work on this document. Our assessment is completed, and we’ve identified three key areas that we’ll be working on. No. 1 is mental health, No. 2 is overweight and obesity and No. 3 is safety.

Q: The report stated that in 2016, the diabetes rate in Linn County decreased to 8.3 percent, down from 10.3 percent of the population in 2013. Why was decreasing the diabetes rate in Linn County a department goal? How did the department go about that initiative?

A: This was part of our Health Improvement Plan, and it nicely combined with a State Innovation Grant we received. Both CHIP — Community Health Improvement Plan — and the State Innovation Model (SIM) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid identified diabetes and access to care as areas of focus. By aligning our efforts, we were able to make a greater impact in both areas. The decrease of diabetes rate is linked to multiple factors: collaboration among community partners to improve referral processes, increase coordination within the diabetes prevention and treatment community including hospital systems and clinics.

Q: Why did your department make an effort to address environmental health?

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A: Environmental health is so critical, so for that reason we have a complete environmental health program here in the department. Their job is food safety, air safety and water safety. We avoid a lot of disease from happening by working behind the scenes. Those are so critical to avoid you from becoming sick — either respiratory problems or any kind of foodborne diseases. Our effort is to sustain and maintain those types of capacities.

Q: What can we expect from the Linn County Public Health going forward?

A: I think opioid-related work will continue to grow. We are going to have a full-fledged recommendations for our community. Mental health is another area. Although we don’t do any mental health services here, it is part of our Health Improvement Plan and we want that to be successful so that’s a niche we have to address. In overall health, I think our plan for 2019 is really to look at disparity issues in our community.

•Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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