Healthy Adams County is a partnership of community members dedicated to working towards improving physical, mental and social well-being for county residents. Since its inception over ten years ago, Healthy Adams County (HAC) has assessed the community to determine its top health needs and concerns. Our current task forces and committees include: Access Committee, Adams County Women’s Cancer Coalition, Adams County Food Policy Council, Behavioral Health Task Force, Children’s Health and Nutrition Task Force, Community Wellness Connections, Domestic Violence Task Force, End of Life Committee, Health Literacy Task Force, Housing Task Force, Latino Services Task Force, Physical Fitness Task Force, Safe Kids of Adams County, Suicide Prevention Committee, Tobacco Prevention Task Force, Walking Event Committee, and Wellness Arts Committee. All of them work towards improving the well-being of Adams County residents.

Addressing our Community Health Assessment Priorities

Every three years Healthy Adams County (HAC) partners with community organizations to perform a comprehensive community health assessment. This allows us to collect and analyze important data and in turn use the findings to educate and mobilize the community to develop priorities, garner resources and plan actions to improve the overall health of our community.

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The final report for Adams County in 2018 identified several key findings, most strongly associated with poverty and age:

• Overweight and obesity rates - 72 percent of those surveyed classified as overweight or obese

• low rates of exercise - only 19 percent surveyed exercised for 30 minutes on five days in the past week

• low vegetable consumption - four percent consumed three serving of vegetables a day

• mental health and depression rates: one in five residents reported having a depressive or anxiety disorder; one or more days with depressive symptoms in past two weeks (59 percent); and at least one day mental health was not good in past month (34 percent).

• Thirty-four percent of residents surveyed reported having high cholesterol and 41 percent reported having high blood pressure. Twenty percent reported limited health literacy.

• On the positive side over 90 percent of residents surveyed reported they have access to health care coverage and percentage of tobacco smokers in Adams County has continued to decline in the past ten years.

The following three areas were selected as our priorities for the next three years as we did not see consistent change from the last health assessment results. Also listed is some of the on-going work to address these priority areas.

1. High rates of overweight and obese residents (focused on low rates of exercise and very low rates of vegetable consumption):

Healthy Adams County’s Physical Fitness Task Force continues to implement their Spring and Fall Walking Parties, winter and summer hikes and 2 free 5K’s for the community.

Community Wellness Connections: Participants can learn about the body, mind, spirit and community dimensions and take part in free activities that coincide with each quarterly dimension. This past year we provided articles and information to fill a page in the Gettysburg Times every other month. All of the articles focused on a quarterly dimension and also highlighted some of the educational activities that we hosted such as the “Pajama Monologues” about sleep disorders and fun activities such as our free bowling night and free movie night. Visit www.adamswellness.org to learn more about this educational and interactive continuous program.

Adams County Food Policy Council continued to implement its successful Healthy Options program to over 130 families who are living within 160 to 250% of the federal poverty guideline and 75 low-income seniors. Families shopped with vouchers at the Adams County Farmers Market Association markets during the market season and at Kennies Markets during the winter months.

The council also continued implementing its Fruit and Veggie Bucks program for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients starting January 2nd 2019 and running through the end of April. Recipients were able to purchase their five most expensive fruits and vegetables daily at 50% off.

2. One in five residents diagnosed with a depressive disorder:

Our goal is to decrease the number of residents who report more than one poor mental health days per month.

Behavioral Health Task Force

The task force has hosted many Mental First Aid Trainings and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) trainings for the community. WellSpan Philhaven received a grant which has allowed them to provide the trainings free of charge to groups of 30 in the counties that WellSpan serves. We will continue to plan dates and host them throughout this year.

The Task Force worked with the Adams County Arts Council and the Weary Arts Group in conjunction with WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital’s Healing heARTS program to host “Breaking Blue” an evening of theater and education that addressed mental health topics through a theatrical lens. The evening featured live theater showcasing real stories followed by table discussions about mental health issues in our community.

Suicide Prevention Committee

The committee worked with over 30 bars and restaurants in Adams County to use bar coasters and hang posters in their establishments that advertised the National Suicide Prevention hotline. Posters were also distributed to two area schools and many organizations. The Ragged Edge Coffee House also printed the hotline information on coffee sleeves during the month of September.

3. Housing:

Healthy Adams County continues to be a part of the @Home In Adams County steering committee and Coalition to address developing housing that is in line with local incomes, strengthening wages through economic development and creating transportation options.

Thanks to all the volunteers and partners of Healthy Adams County for your efforts in the past year. Our collective work has helped improve the health of many residents in Adams County.

Kathy Gaskin is executive director of Healthy Adams County.

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