Health, jobs and behavior spell success

By: David Thomas, The Jackson Sun on Apr 01, 2016


Jobs and education, behavior change and health care highlighted Dr. Randy Wykoff’s message when the West Tennessee Regional Health Summit was held Thursday at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.

“What is the health status of West Tennessee?” Wykoff asked those in attendance at the J. Walter Barnes Conference.“Why should someone born in this region be more likely to live a shorter life than someone born in most other states, and in dozens of other countries?”

Photo by David Thomas, The Jackson Sun

Wykoff is the Dean of College of Public Health and Allied Health at East Tennessee State University, and is responsible for creating the first College of Public Health for the State of Tennessee.

He also serves on the board of directors for the Tennessee Institute of Public Health.

“Jobs and education, health care and behavior change … we will not be successful in any one of these until we do all three,” Wykoff said. “We have to have access to health care and we have to change our behavior. We have challenges, but we can do something about them.”
Wykoff said the United States is ranked 33rd in the world in life expectancy, and Tennessee ranks 43rd nationally as the least healthy state.

Health behaviors include adult smoking, adult obesity, diet, physical inactivity, alcohol — excessive drinking and alcohol-impaired driving deaths — and sexually transmitted diseases.
Social and economic factors include unemployment, poverty, children in single-parent households, violent crime and injury deaths.

After the program, a drawing was held for four $1,000 mini-grants to public and not for profit agencies designated to improve health, wellness or prevention efforts of the local and regional workforce and their families.
Le Bonheur, the University of Tennessee Extension, Jackson Center for Independent Living (JCIL) and Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department were selected.

“We can use it on our existing programs or expand,” said Cindy Hogg, director of health services with Le Bonheur. “We have programs linked to the Jackson Head Start Program, and we’re in surrounding counties.”

Hogg said having a mobile unit affords Le Bonheur the opportunity to visit area schools.

“Rural West Tennessee is limited … less physicians,” Hogg said. “But having our mobile unit linked to schools, we can provide that care. We want to target children with a healthy lifestyles curriculum.”

Kingsley Brock, the executive director of the Jackson Regional Partnership, said he was encouraged by Wykoff’s presentation.

“It was very enlightening, and it brought to the forefront the importance of promoting economic development,” Brock said. “Economic development is what I do, and the overall health and wellness of the employee is vital to landing new industry. You can have a trained workforce, but what are you doing to provide a healthy workforce?”
 

Reach David Thomas at (731) 425-9637. Follow him on Twitter: @dgthomasbiz

Read more at The Jackson Sun.

 

 


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