COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Organizations throughout Cochise County have begun making progress on meeting the goals of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).
The five-year initiative, the result of a Community Health Assessment carried out by Cochise County Health & Social Services (CCHSS), aims to address three priority areas identified by the public.
On Monday, the CHIP Steering Committee met in Douglas to report on the work being done to tackle mental health and substance abuse issues, to create jobs and a healthy economy, and to encourage people to eat healthier to reduce obesity and diabetes.
Each priority has a working group looking at ways to approach the two goals set for each focus area.
Under mental health and substance abuse, a community capacity survey is being conducted to determine current service and resource levels in the region, said CCHSS Director Carrie Langley.
The goal is to have a database in place within four months, which will help determine how best to reduce incidence of incarceration for mental health and substance abuse disorders through increased participation in community programs.
A similar strategy is being employed by the work group overseeing the goals to improve the local economy.
"There are already a whole lot of assessments out there, so we're going to compile all the documents and assessments looking at the state of the economy, and then we're going to choose workable things we can do," explained Judy Gilligan, Prevention Services Director with CCHSS.
A total of 45 agencies are collaborating to move CHIP forward, including the Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona.
The organization has chosen to focus on the healthy eating, obesity and diabetes priority through a $2 million grant to be awarded to one community group over a three-year period.
Five organizations have been invited to submit applications for the grant. They must be able to meet the goals of building a community-based infrastructure that provides options for healthy eating and active living, and changing cultural expectations about what defines a good and healthy life.
"We wanted this to be strategic funding aligned with the goals of CHIP," said CEO Margaret Hepburn. "We are really excited and think the size of this grant will impact the community in great ways."
The steering committee also heard that seven healthy community committees are continuing to focus on concerns specific to their local populations. They are located in Sierra Vista, Douglas, Fort Huachuca, Willcox, Tombstone, Bisbee, and Benson.
Issues being tackled include transportation, home bound seniors, access to healthy food, and safe bike routes. There are plans to set up more groups in Elfrida and Huachuca City.
What are the top priorities and goals?
Priority One: Mental Health & Substance Abuse
- Goal 1: Create policy change to keep people with mental illness out of jails and prisons
- Goal 2: Expand mental health wellness and substance abuse resources for everyone in Cochise County
Priority Two: Good Jobs & Healthy Economy
- Goal 1: Promote business growth and job opportunities throughout Cochise County
- Goal 2: Promote tourism and cross-border partnerships and business activities for all of Cochise County
Priority Three: Healthy Eating, Diabetes & Obesity
- Goal 1: Build and strengthen community options for healthy eating and active living
- Goal 2: Change the cultural expectations about the definition of a good and healthy life