Healthy Ottawa Council calls on residents to get involved in creating a healthier community
(OTTAWA COUNTY, MI) – A consortium of key health and human service leaders in Ottawa County, the Healthy Ottawa Advisory Council, announced the 2021 Healthy Ottawa Plan on November 15th, detailing the results of the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), and recommendations for how to create a healthier Ottawa County. The Council is calling on community organizations and individuals to get involved and be part of the solution.
More than 100 representatives from cross-sector industries, and more than 200 Ottawa County residents, participated in the 2021 Healthy Ottawa Plan to gauge the overall health climate of Ottawa County, and identify the top three health issues in the County. The top three areas of health concern for the County remained unchanged from 2018, and have likely been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic: access to care, mental health and healthy behaviors. The Healthy Ottawa Plan identifies these health concerns and their root causes, sets goals for each and provides recommended strategies for community agencies to use when developing programming. The plan also provides recommended strategies for individual community members to use as they make daily decisions impacting health. Implementation of the 2021 plan will begin in January 2022.
Some of the notable key findings in the 2020 CHNA include:
- Access to Care
1% of “underserved and vulnerable” adults had trouble meeting their healthcare needs in 2020. These same individuals identified high cost as the number one reason they had trouble meeting their healthcare needs in the last two years. Key informants also identified “the ability to afford out of pocket expenses like co-pays/deductibles” as the number one barrier to access to care.
- Mental Health
The 2020 CHNA showed that the pandemic had the greatest impact on Ottawa County residents’ mental health. Almost double the number of adults in Ottawa County identified being in “poor” mental health – 15.3% in 2020 compared to 8.8% in 2017. Three in 10 teens reported feeling sad and hopeless, and 4.9% of adults and 18.5% of youth thought about committing suicide.
- Healthy Behaviors
“Underserved and vulnerable” residents identify access to free or low-cost nutrition/healthy eating and access to free or low-cost fitness/exercise as top resources lacking in the community. Adults classified as obese increased from 29.9% in 2017 to 34.5% in 2020. The percentage of adults who consume less than one fruit per day increased to 43.6% and the percentage of adults who consume less than one vegetable per day increased to 31.8% in 2020.
In order to see the kind of positive change related to population health that the Council seeks in Ottawa County, many stakeholders are needed to actively engage in the work of addressing public health challenges. The Healthy Ottawa Council is asking for individual community members to take steps to better understand the greatest health challenges affecting themselves or their families and be involved in solutions. Recommended strategies can be found by reviewing the 2021 Healthy Ottawa Plan or by contacting Healthy Ottawa at healthyottawa.org/contact-us.
The priority health care concerns identified in past reports have guided strategies developed in previous Healthy Ottawa Plans, as well programming developed by local agencies and funding priorities by area foundations and organizations. Past successes include the development of the Suicide Prevention Coalition, Ottawa County Pathways to Better Health, Thrive Ottawa County and the expansion of the work of Ottawa Food. Funding from numerous agencies, such as those from the Healthy Ottawa Advisory Council, and grants from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation and the Community Foundation for the Holland/Zeeland Area have enabled the continued progress of these strategies.
The vision of Healthy Ottawa is healthy people living in healthy communities. Its mission is to achieve positive health outcomes for Ottawa County residents by partnering to identify health issues, plan, and implement strategic actions for change. Its values are equity, collaboration, excellence and best practice. More information about community assessments and planning can be found here.