The fourth and final focus group meeting hosted by Sedalia-Pettis County United Way focused on health, and the need for community education was again a topic of high importance.
About 20 people were at the Fox Theater Events Center on Tuesday for the discussion, which took place at three separate tables and as a large group. Several SPCUW board members, people from member agencies and officials from Katy Trail Community Health and Bothwell Regional Health Center were in attendance.
The discussion began with what health should look like in the Sedalia community. The group decided it should be easily accessible and affordable, but that health extends beyond health care and into a healthy lifestyle.
“When I picture in my mind what we want health to look like in our community I envision the bicyclists, the walker, the runner on the Katy Trail, in the parks. Parking lots full at the health clubs, people using those facilities,” said Pettis County Presiding Commissioner John Meehan. “Whether it be a community center that has that health component to it, maybe that’s a piece of what we would like to see health look like.
“We talked about better access to health care, better access to a healthy lifestyle. If the Katy Trail ran right behind your house you’d probably be more likely to use it, right? So an interconnecting trail system, all of those things that involve a healthy lifestyle.”
Katy Trail Community Health CEO Chris Stewart also included the safety aspect of health: safe, clean drinking water and safe housing and other environmental factors.
During a discussion of how things are going in Sedalia regarding health, both positives and negatives were brought up. The gap in dental services and lack of knowledge of available health services and programs were both on the negative side, while BRHC, KTCH, adequate number of dentists and good employers that provide good insurance were seen as positive aspects of health progress in Sedalia.
For health care employee Stewart, she said she sees two main “realities” in the community when it comes to health and health care.
“What we see a lot at Katy Trail is that people don’t really understand two things. One is what it means to be healthy and that goes back to health literacy. They don’t understand what it means,” she said. “They also have a really hard time navigating the health care system. It can be overwhelming for folks, and we spend time helping them navigate, like going to a specialist or getting diagnostics done or getting transportation.”
Stewart continued that point by saying she doesn’t think lack of knowledge is income driven, giving an example of what she sees at KTCH. Most parents don’t know children should have a yearly wellness exam until age 19, which she says is “critical” to having healthy children and adults. Most parents stop taking children to the doctor yearly once immunizations have been completed, and only return when the child is sick.
Attendees again focused on the importance of an involved community and the need for people to take ownership in his or her life, which can be difficult to influence.
“All four components, education, income, safety net services and income, are so intertwined that I’d like to see a comm where we are integrated and not necessarily operating in silos and I think there are examples of that happening, interacting,” Stewart said. “I’d like to see more of that. The issues and problems in our community are evidence we need to see more of that.”