Over the past couple of months, Live Well Omaha worked with UNO Health Behavior graduate student Taylor Bennetch, to learn about what is occurring in the Omaha community in regards to health. Taylor attended various Douglas County Board of Health, Douglas County Commissioner, and Omaha Public Schools Board of Education meetings. In addition to Taylor’s work, our community organizer Claudia Granillo has attended some Omaha City Council meetings. Their goal in attending these meetings? To lift up where health lives in public policy and to learn and report back about what is occuring in the Omaha Metro on items related to the four health priorities chosen by the Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Coalition.
The four health priorities are:
- access to healthy foods
- access to preventative care
- healthy housing
- safe communities
Here’s a snapshot of recent public meetings:
Douglas County Board of Health Meetings
March 20, 2019
Dr. Pour, Director of the Douglas County Health Department, presented on the state of public health in Douglas County:
- Childhood lead poisoning: 20,340 children were screened in Douglas County in 2018 with 198 confirmed blood-lead levels greater than or equal to 5 ug/DL.
- There were 133 new cases of lead poisoning and 90% of new cases received inspections.
- Additionally, 216 home inspections were scheduled.
- There were 4,927 residents that were educated at events on the dangers of lead poisoning.
- There were quite a few new cases in West Omaha (68164) and North Omaha (68111) had the highest number of cases.
- Obesity: Although Douglas County added 14 healthy neighborhood stores and completed 115 Prediabetes Risk Assessments, obesity rates are still increasing in both adults and children.
Douglas County Commissioners Meetings
January 29, 2019
The topic of mental health was discussed. Sherry Glasnapp, Director of the Douglas County Community Mental Health Center, presented concerns about the lack of long-term mental health care centers in Douglas County. Director Glasnapp discussed how mental health is under-funded and how there is a long wait for long-term regional care.
February 2, 2019
The Douglas County Commissioners passed a resolution allocating $31,000 in initial funding for the Behavioral Health Screening and Assessment Pilot Program at the Douglas County Youth Center. This program was created out of a collaboration between Douglas County Youth Center, UNMC, Creighton, and Charles Drew Health Center. The goal is to create better outcomes for youth and reduce regression/relapse which would in turn reduce the detention population. This will be done through psychiatric assessments, dual diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and consultation services; all of which will be conducted by professionals from UNMC, Creighton, and Charles Drew Health Center. The focus on mental health is significant because in a survey administered by Live Well Omaha in collaboration with the UNMC College of Public Health and the Health Departments of Douglas, Sarpy/Cass, and Pottawattamie, mental health rose to the top as the number one health priority for the region.
Omaha City Council
March 12, 2019
During this city council meeting, the proposed landlord ordinances were discussed. The proponents of these ordinances discussed the code violations and substandard housing that has been found in certain buildings around Omaha. Former tenants testified about the conditions of these places and how the substandard housing conditions affected them and their families. The opposing viewpoint, which is against additional housing inspections, discussed that not every landlord is a bad landlord. They believe that only those landlords that have had code violations or complaints should be inspected. However, both sides agreed that landlord and tenant education is important and the desire to work together was expressed. Additionally, both sides believed that there needs to be more time to discuss before the council takes a vote on these ordinances. City Council members discussed the possibility of pushing back the vote on these ordinances to the March 19, 2019 meeting. The final vote on these ordinances took place on April 2, 2019.
Are you interested in joining Live Well’s volunteer team of public health bloggers? Please join us in shining the light on health as addressed in area public meetings. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.