A ‘chat’ about health concerns

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Franklin County Public Health is asking Urbancrest if they would be interested in a “CHAT.”

During a recent committee meeting, village councilman Kenneth Skeaton said they have been contacted by the county and were asked to join a new initiative called the Community Health Action Team.

According to Skeaton, the mission of CHAT is to bring a diverse group of residents, church leaders and business partners together in order to help build a healthier community.

Ideally, he said, this group would reach out to the community and talk about which health issues they are struggling with or which illnesses concern them the most. After these public interactions, the CHAT members would discuss their findings and one appointed CHAT member would relay this information to the health department. Upon doing so, the county would use this information to create an action plan that would target the specific health needs of the community.

Skeaton said he is intrigued by the county initiative.

“I think it definitely has merit,” he said.

He added that high blood pressure and diabetes are “not foreign” to the community and he is interested to see how CHAT members and the county could work together to lessen the risk of those on the cusp or treat those who have it.

“One of the most important things about CHAT is the discussions,” Skeaton said. “Discussions can lead to action and action can lead to an improved lifestyle for the entire community.”

Village Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. also showed interest in the initiative and said he believes the churches could play an important role in CHAT because they have strong, personal relationships with those in the community.

“For a program like this to work, you have to have a community buy-in,” he said.

Skeaton also said the Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA could play an important part as well because of their unique programs and popularity within the village.

Jimmie Davis, the county’s community health and wellness supervisor, said a great aspect of CHAT is that it is completely community driven because those who live within the community know what they are dealing with better than any outside entity.

He said the health department would play an advisory role in CHAT and then work on action plans and funding opportunities to target the health needs of the community.

Davis said he is excited that Urbancrest is taking an interest in CHAT.

“It’s a great program,” he said.

Skeaton said they would have more discussions about CHAT at next month’s health and safety meeting and then bring it up to council at a later date.

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