Three health needs targeted by Conway Regional Health System

By Tammy Keith Originally Published April 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 5, 2013 at 11:07 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Dr. Joe Bates, deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Health, speaks during the Conway Regional Women’s Council’s inaugural State of Health luncheon on March 28 at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

The good, the bad and the ugly of Faulkner County’s health issues were identified in a Conway Regional Health System report, and officials are asking for help to address the concerns that were raised.

Some of the issues are “a little bit daunting,” said Jim Lambert, president and CEO of the health system.

An in-depth Faulkner County Community Needs Assessment was presented last week at a State of Health luncheon the Conway Regional Women’s Council sponsored at the University of Central Arkansas .

“We’re better than the state in most indicators, but that’s probably not saying a whole lot, given where the state is,” Lambert said.

In addition to the information Conway Regional gathered, it held a community summit in the summer to get input from residents and community leaders.

He said the amount of binge drinking was a surprise to him, but the problem with obesity wasn’t.

In Faulkner County, 13 percent of residents report that they binge-drink, compared with 12 percent in Arkansas and 8 percent in the nation.

Lambert said it will take everyone working together to address the problems.

“We can’t do it all,” he said.

Of the 11 health topics identified to address, Conway Regional Health System picked three to focus on in the next three years:

• Obesity: The goal is to reduce the rate of childhood obesity — 34.8 percent — in Faulkner County.

“We want to try to change those lifestyle habits of children,” Lambert said, so the children will continue good habits as they become adults. He said Conway Regional already has programs in place toward that goal, such as Kids Run Arkansas, a fun run/walk.

• Wellness: The goal is to work with business and industry to increase corporate wellness programs. Lambert said Conway Regional has had a fitness center for years and started another program in which employees get “coaching” when they falter. Some employees have lost 40 to 50 pounds, he said.

Healthy employees mean fewer days missed for sickness, he said, so that helps the individual and the employer.

“We hope the employers will embrace that wellness initiative,” Lambert said, even though it takes time to see a return.

Lambert said the goal is to have “happier, healthier, more productive individuals in the future” and to reduce health care costs.

• Physician/clinical workforce: The goal is to recruit more providers, primarily physicians, to give people better access to health care.

Dr. Joe Bates, deputy director of the state Department of Health, also shared information at the luncheon.

Lambert said the complete report may be accessed at www.conwayregional.org/chna.

“The main thing is try to raise awareness of the issue,” Lambert said.

People “can have a part in solving this issue,” he said. “There are various things they can do to help themselves and help the community.”

Conway Regional Health System will assist and partner with other organizations to make an impact, Lambert said.

“We’ve done the heavy lifting, … getting the information,” said Lori Ross, corporate director of marketing/foundation for the health system. “Now we need people to lock arms and, hopefully, together we can improve the health of the community.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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