Assessment suggested for proposed countywide health program |

Assessment suggested for proposed countywide health program

by Jeff Munson

An effort to promote good health in Douglas County using a program that has proven successful in neighboring Carson City has begun.

The non-profit program, called HealthSmart, is part of an initiative sponsored by Carson-Tahoe Hospital and Barton Hospital that promotes health care issues through public education.

An organizational meeting was held Wednesday.

“Douglas County has the fastest growing adult population in the state with a lot of different needs,” said Dr. Colleen Lyon, chairwoman of Carson City’s HealthSmart program. “The focus should then be about what needs should best be addressed.”

Lyon suggested public health officials form an “umbrella” group, including the local business sector, to meet regularly and discuss goals. The Carson program will work closely with the Douglas group to help it get off the ground, Lyon said.

The first goal should be to create a needs assessment to determine which health issues most affect Douglas County, said Kathy Loomis, HealthSmart’s executive director.

“You have your pulse; your sense of your own community and it is up to you to find out what specific issues should be addressed,” Loomis said.

In Carson City, for example, a needs assessment placed anti-tobacco programs as a priority, as well as early childhood inoculations, she said. The needs assessment also found that Carson City has a high rate of alcoholism.

Loomis said a statewide study six years ago found Douglas to be the worst county in early childhood immunizations.

“Addressing this issue could be your top priority,” Loomis said.

One measure of Carson City’s success with the program is reflected in the grants it has earned. So far, more than $300,000 has been granted for tobacco prevention efforts. HealthSmart helped get some of the money, Loomis said.

Other programs HealthSmart has been involved with include the HotShots immunization program, the distribution of HealthWise handbooks and the creation of a program aired on public access television.

Former Carson City Supervisor Kay Bennett, who spearheaded efforts to get HealthSmart off the ground, said Douglas County can get out of the program exactly what it puts into it.

“In the end, what you accomplish will be worth it,” Bennett said.