Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County

Working to Improve the Health of Hoosiers

Writer  /  Alaina Sullivan
Photos Provided

A healthier community means a happier and more productive community.

This motto is one that drove Johnson Memorial Health to create what is now called Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County (PHJC). Their mission is to plan and implement collaborative, measurable strategies to improve the health of the residents of Johnson County.

PHJC developed in 1994 out of a small group of individuals from Johnson Memorial Health who shared the same vision of a healthier community outside of the hospital walls.

“This shared vision led to a commitment to develop a healthcare plan that went beyond traditional hospital care, a proactive plan that would have positive health impacts before a hospital admission or emergency room visit was necessary,” said Jane Blessing, PHJC Executive Director.

The group conducted an extensive health assessment to determine community needs, which led to the creation of various action teams now in existence through PHJC. The research helped them identify gaps in Johnson County healthcare services, and the hospital resources allowed them to create programs to help fill those gaps.

“Inherent in all goals is improving access by increasing communication and awareness, building capacity and coordinating existing resources to maximize outcomes,” said Blessing. PHJC has been well-received by the Johnson County public, which is evidenced in the participation in programs and attendance at events. “Get Healthy Franklin!” has over 2,000 members, and the Dump Your Plump program has over 2,500 participants representing more than 100 businesses.

“Johnson Memorial Health oversees hundreds of citizens and organizations that have contributed millions of dollars in services to the community,” said Blessing. “With sustained backing from Johnson Memorial Health, PHJC has been able to create longstanding relationships with core county entities, creating action teams with a 90 percent attendance record at their meetings who are willing and eager for any new challenge.”

According to PHJC’s website, “Improving population health through community-wide partnerships is an effective way to prioritize health needs and streamline resources where they are needed most.” PHJC is run by an Advisory Board as well as a four-member staff. The Advisory Board regularly works to identify gaps in Johnson County healthcare services and develop strategies to fill these gaps.

According to Blessing, five action teams are at the heart of PHJC: Access to Care; Wellness; Maternal and Child Health; Tobacco-Free Johnson County; and Asthma Education/Management Programs. All the action teams identify current health concerns while developing strategies to address these health issues and coordinate existing resources to achieve this goal.

Reducing the barriers to accessing healthcare is the first way to ensure a healthier community. Access to Care, according to the PHJC website, includes all types of care: insurance, mental health counseling and transportation to and from appointments for the disabled, low-income, elderly and mobility disadvantaged. This initiative also assists adults in registering for healthcare, whether private, on the market or through Medicaid, and it focuses on registering children for the Hoosier Healthwise program.

PHJC also offers resources for behavioral health. The goal is to open doors for Johnson County residents who may not have access to mental and emotional health programs, may be hesitant to reach out to these resources or may not know that they even need these resources.

Programs under the Wellness initiative include “Get Healthy Franklin!” “Dump Your Plump,” “Game on! and Beyond,” “Walk Across Johnson County” and the “Johnson County Health and Wellness Speakers Bureau.”

The Dump Your Plump program is a 10-week weight loss and exercise competition in which community teams participate to see which group can lose the most weight and earn a $1,000 team prize. Teams consist of four to 10 members, and the cost is only $10 per participant. According to the PHJC website, you do not have to live in Johnson County to participate. Participants who exercise five days in a given week are entered into a weekly drawing for $25.

The Speakers Bureau is a free service offering speakers skilled in a variety of health-related topics to Johnson County community schools, clubs, businesses, organizations and civic groups. The minimum number is 10 people registered to receive this free service.

Throughout the next year, the Wellness Action Team will be working to fine-tune their Health and Wellness Speakers Bureau program as well as increase awareness of Johnson Memorial Health’s Weight Loss and Wellness Center.

The board looks to reduce the Johnson County infant mortality rate. This can be done through improving access to healthcare, improving the availability of first-trimester prenatal care, promoting safe sleep practices, promoting breast feeding, reducing smoking during pregnancy and increasing the percentage of full-term deliveries.

The action team also offers help through the Period of Purple Crying initiative, offering assistance to parents struggling with infants with what is traditionally known as colic. “Great Expectations” is also a free childbirth education program offered through PHJC.

The advisory board looks to reduce overall smoking rates among adults, youths and pregnant women.  Tobacco is not the only inhaled substance covered. With the increased use of electronic nicotine delivery devices, this initiative will also cover education on this alternative.

Asthma Education/Management Programs have also been covered as an initiative under PHJC. The main goal of these resources and programs is to reduce the burden of asthma in Johnson County. Workshops are available free of charge and are listed on the PHJC website.

Blessing is proud to be a part of this growing program. “PHJC has been recognized as one of the longest-standing community coalitions in the state and shines as an example of Johnson Memorial Hospital’s continuing commitment to community outreach.”

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