Community Well Represented at Health Care Planning Initiative

A group of 45-50 gathered on Tuesday evening (October 15) at Lake Tiak O'Khata to participate in the Winston
WMC's Lee McCall welcomes participants in the
Health Care Planning Initiative on Tuesday
Medical Center Health Care Planning Initiative. WMC Chief Executive Officer, Lee McCall welcomed the crowd and explained that the public forum was vital to the successful completion of a community assessment needs report that is now a requirement under the Affordable Care Act.

McCall said, "We want Winston Medical to be your health care provider of choice. This forum helps us to better understand the health care needs of Winston County and we are asking for your support and input on programs and initiatives."

Barry Plunkett with St. Dominics in Jackson and with the Horne Group Consulting firm based in Jackson acted as the facilitator of the meeting. Plunkett indicated that he had completed 16 similar meetings across the state and applauded the community as Winston County had the largest group of participants. Plunkett hoped that what was learned at the meeting would dovetail with WMC's strategic planning. "Lots of people in Winston County provide health care, not just the hospital" said Plunkett, "but the hospital can be the central catalyst for improving care."

Plunkett provided some statistical data unique to Winston County. Demographically, the county is very similar to most of the rest of the state but there are some differences in causes of death within the county. While heart disease remains the number one killer not only nationally and statewide, in Winston County, cancer deaths are "running neck and neck" with heart disease. It was also noted that Alzheimers is more prevalent in Winston County versus other areas. The top causes of death in the area include:

heart disease
cancer
respiratory disease
alzheimers
stroke
accidents
blood poisoning (often related to diabetes)

Plunkett indicated that most of these causes were lifestyle related, noting that Mississippi has been considered the most obese state in the U.S.
Barry Plunkett takes input from participants

Plunkett said, "Education is a weapon that we must use. Unfortunately, those who wouldn't think of coming to this meeting tonight, are those that need to be reached the most."

Discussions focused on local care and how it could be improved with much emphasis on preventative care. Workplace screenings and exercise programs, use of the internet, health fairs, church programs, senior programs and reaching out to people in unconventional places (such as Walmart) were all ideas presented by the participants.

The group expressed their top concerns and a wish list for health care improvements as the meeting progressed. The major desires are indicated below in no particular order:

local urologist
MRI capability locally
mental health crisis center
local pediatrician
more minority doctors
community pool for exercise purposes
respite care for elderly or alzheimer patients 
dedicated alzheimer unit in our nursing homes
training program for our young people to introduce them to health care careers
LMSD to open school gyms and tracks for public use
domestic violence/rape crisis center

After the meeting, a focus group met to discuss the issues and topics raised and to work with WMC to develop a strategic plan for the future of Winston County healthcare. This plan will be completed by the end of the year and published on Winston Medical's website.

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