Freeholders More Determined than Ever to Reverse County Health Trends
Concerned over continued poor health statistics among county residents, Cumberland County Freeholders are vowing to step up efforts to reverse the negative trends.
Aggressive initiatives have been in place for the past four years in the wake of the first National County Health Ranking by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin. The Freeholder Board and Inspira Health Network (then South Jersey Healthcare) partnered with 19 community-based organizations to form the Cumberland Health and Wellness Alliance.
The Alliance, which has since expanded to include Salem and Gloucester Counties, targets has developed programs that target unhealthy behaviors and encourage county residents to make healthier food and lifestyle choices.
“The health of our residents is a top priority for us,” said Freeholder Director Joe Derella. “And while we’re making progress on some fronts, we’re obviously not making enough. Of course, economics play a major role in the health and wellness of a community, but we don’t want to make that an excuse. We can be healthier. And we’re determined to turn these statistics around.”
The Alliance currently has five targeted initiatives -- teen pregnancy prevention, obesity, prescription drug abuse prevention, access to healthcare and chronic disease management -- each with a specific strategy.
Derella also pointed to two grant-funded programs that will hopefully make a difference, one aimed at reducing teenage pregnancies and the other at ensuring that pregnant women at risk, have healthy babies.
The Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is a five-year youth development program where a target group of students from sixth grade through high school meet daily, five days a week. The program uses a long term, holistic approach to empower youth, to help them develop personal goals and the desire for a productive future, in addition to developing their sexual literacy and educating them about the consequences of sexual activity.
The Improved Pregnancy Outcomes Program is a three-year initiative to ensure women get services they need to maintain their health, have an optimal pregnancy and a healthy baby.