Conversation turns to ways to make Allen County healthier



September 11, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Allen County has made gains in recent years in terms of overall community health.
That said, there are still glaring needs for many — lack of access to health care providers, poor housing conditions, drug and alcohol abuse, lack of daycare options for “the working poor,” etc.
With that in mind, a group of about 50 residents from across the county gathered Thursday for a brainstorming session to find potential solutions, even if they were “pie in the sky” goals.
Then, the group came up with names or examples of people around town who could make such dreams happen.
Thursday’s community conversation was held at the behest of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, which has funded 53 grants in Allen County totaling $3.3 million over the past 13 years.

THURSDAY’S conversation consisted of answering three questions: Where are Allen County’s greatest healthy living needs? What are possible, achievable solutions? And who can help solve those issues?
“This is a time for us to solicit input,” explained Bridget McCandless, the Health Care Foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “I don’t live here. I don’t know what your unmet needs are, and I also don’t know what ‘cockamamie’ ideas you may have.”

THE IDEAS, she suggested would go something like, “If we could do one great thing, it’d look like this…”
The attendees took it from there, with a litany of suggestions, from converting old nursing home buildings into day care facilities to provide 24-hour services — essential for some parents who work the night shift — to creating “medical care neighborhoods,” in which providers offer a holistic approach to treating patients.
Debbie Bearden suggested a “growing growers” class offering, in which young people are trained in how to grow a garden, then using that produce either for consumption, or as a revenue generator.
Public transportation services also were at the top of several wish lists.

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