WARREN - Health departments in Trumbull County are developing a uniform health assessment plan to achieve accreditation, an undertaking that should improve the overall quality of health, they say.
Representatives from several groups in public and mental health, housing and child and adult advocacy and protection fields started in earnest Wednesday to get health departments in Girard, Niles and Warren and the county's Health Department credentialed with the Public Health Accreditation Board.
Information from a SWOT - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats - analysis done by the group Wednesday will be used to develop priorities and goals for service for the four health departments, ultimately to make Trumbull County a healthier place.
''The ultimate focus is on the health of the community,'' said Frank Migliozzi, Trumbull County Health Department's director of environmental health.
''Without a healthy community, people aren't going to want to live here,'' said Sandy Swann, Trumbull County Health Department's director of nursing.
Ranking 71st, Trumbull is among the bottom third of Ohio counties for overall health, according to the 2012 national County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program done by the University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Priorities have changed since the last county health department health assessment plan done internally about five years ago and a tri-county study that involved Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties done in 2010.
For example, Swann said, issues like obesity and childhood poverty have gotten worse, but smoking and lead have improved.
The information gathered Wednesday will be used to ''tweak'' the 2010 plan as the foundation for the new proposal, Swann said. Areas discussed were transportation; funding cuts; crime, drugs and unemployment; environmental enforcement and court systems; and public image and media relations.
Goals will be created from the talking points and then a strategic plan, or health improvement plan, will be made to achieve those goals, Migliozzi said. Ultimately, the plan will be used to apply for accreditation.
''Although all four health departments have collaborated services for many years, this recent effort turns the action into a documented, formally noted action that will continue to expand as the process of accreditation takes place,'' said Robert Pinti, Warren's deputy health director.