Community Stories

Health improvement efforts from around the country

filtered by "Public Health"

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A Tale of Two Cities: Cambridge, MA

Best known for its world-renowned universities, Cambridge, MA, is also a city that faces challenges like obesity and school readiness. Located in Middlesex County, which ranked third out of 14 counties in Massachusetts in the 2012 County Health Rankings , Cambridge is a diverse community committed to working together to improve the health and well-being of all residents, of whom a quarter are foreign-born, a third are non-white, and 15 percent live in poverty.

Health Department Engages Its Neighbors to Improve Health

In Atlanta, one of the many places staff at the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness looked to improve health was in their own backyard. For years, a group of older, vagrant men loitered in an empty lot near the health department, but were completely disconnected from it and the services it offered especially for this vulnerable population—such as health screenings, smoking cessation assistance, and drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Juneau County’s Health Rankings Offer Opportunity to Improve

Juneau County, a small rural county in the southern part of Wisconsin, ranked either last or near the bottom in a series of health check-ups issued by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute (UWPHI). Juneau County Health Director Barbara Theis wasn’t happy about the poor scores but over time she began to see the report as an opportunity to improve the county’s performance.

Part II: Moving Into Action in Clare County/Central Michigan

As a result of the 2010 Public Health Summit, the Central Michigan District Health Department created the Together We Can Health Improvement Council , which brings together stakeholders from across the region from human service agencies, media, local government, K-12 education, colleges and universities, and hospital systems. Working groups were also created within each county in the region.

Working Together Creatively to Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

Twenty years ago George Sedlacek, the Director of Community Health in Marquette County, MI, was lambasted in the local news as a “health Nazi.” Now retired but still active as a community leader, he’s being hailed as a “health hero.” What accounts for the transformation? Sedlacek will tell you he didn’t change; the community’s culture changed.

In San Bernardino, CA, County Health Department Takes Lead to Improve Area’s Poor Health Ranking

The 2011 County Health Rankings ranked San Bernardino County—which spans more than 20,000 square miles and a population of more than 2 million—50th out of 56 California counties in health factors like physical environment, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care. The city of San Bernardino alone faces significant public health challenges, with a lower life expectancy, a higher homicide rate, and fewer parks and healthy food options than the rest of the state.

PedNet Coalition Works to Improve Health Through Better Public Transit

Home to the University of Missouri, Columbia is considered one of the state’s most livable cities, with a number of educational, economic and cultural opportunities available. It is also the seat of Boone County, which ranked well according to the 2011 County Health Rankings —10th out of 114 counties in Missouri for health outcomes and 2nd for health factors.

Nashville Eyes Economic Benefits of Healthy Communities

In Davidson County, Mayor Karl Dean and public health officials are moving forward to make Nashville a healthier, more livable city by improving opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. Initiatives have ranged from transforming food options in schools and child care centers, to investing in sidewalks, parks, greenways, and a bike share program. A workplace wellness challenge is next on the list, along with expanding efforts to get healthy, fresh foods into neighborhood corner stores in Nashville’s food deserts.

Rockingham County, North Carolina Establishes Task Force to Identify the Root Causes of Its Poor Health Rankings, Develops Recommendations

Rockingham County, dubbed as North Carolina’s North Star, is nestled at the tip of the Northern Piedmont Triad region and cradled by the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Though Rockingham County is mostly rural (county size – 572 square miles with a population of approximately 93,063), its communities still offer small-town living balanced with 21st century amenities.

Learn From Other Communities in Action

See how communities are using policies, programs, and system changes to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play.

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