The major issue areas for the first-ever Centre Region Partners for Health Summit, held at the Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis Auditorium at Mount Nittany Medical Center included, in no particular order: mental health, substance abuse, obesity/diabetes, healthy aging, oral health, and access to care, including transportation. More than 90 community and human service leaders from the region convened on Feb. 25 for the culmination of an important new collaboration between Mount Nittany Health and Centre County Partnership for Community Health (CCPCH).
Education became a prevailing concern affecting all of these areas of need in the community. Summit participants indicated that knowing about services and solutions that may already be available today is very important.
In addition to education, there was a perceived need for increased understanding and priority given to healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and the value of specific types of preventive care such as oral care, beginning healthy education at the youngest possible ages, coordinating care throughout the community, and ways to shift toward an increasingly health-conscious culture.
Transportation was another major concern. Current charters and funding within Centre County make certain types of transportation available for most individuals, but many continue to slip through the cracks, especially those living in more rural areas of the county with limited resources who often live with specific health, economic, or age-related limitations that make transportation to health-promoting services especially difficult.
Another theme that emerged for both youth and the elderly is insufficient health activities. For the elderly, the effect is a feeling of isolation, and pertains to overall satisfaction, optimism, and staying physically active.
For youth, a lack of healthy activities means more opportunity to resort to drugs, alcohol, and other risky behavior. Some might argue that the community provides plenty of healthy opportunities for all; while this might certainly be true, summit participants indicated an ongoing need to do a better job of working together to bring awareness to the assets and resources that already exist in our community.
The next step would be to make those resources available to people in enticing and culturally appropriate ways and to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to remove barriers to active use and participation in those services.
Moving forward, Mount Nittany Health has assembled an internal planning team to develop a series of strategies that outline how Mount Nittany Health hopes to play a role in supporting the effectiveness of local organizations, agencies, and volunteers in responding to ongoing health-related needs and gaps in our region. The Centre County Partnership for Community Health will soon publish summit proceedings and will release plans for facilitating targeted forums designed to find specific and actionable ways forward in dealing with each of our community's major issues. These ongoing community-wide conversations will prepare us for the next semi-annual health needs summit to be organized and hosted by CCPCH this coming fall.
To share your opinion on health needs and gaps in our region, take a few minutes to complete a health needs survey.