By Aila Boyd
The Botetourt Community Health Steering Committee will be hosting Community Health Launch, a series of meetings to review survey results, set priorities, and plan for the future, at four locations throughout the county over the course of the month.
The meetings include Tuesday, July 9 from 6-8 p.m. at the Botetourt Event Center in Buchanan; Thursday, July 18 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Fincastle Firehouse; Tuesday, July 16 from 6-8 p.m. at the YMCA in Daleville, and Thursday, July 25 at the Eagle Rock Library from 1-3 p.m.
Dr. Stephanie Harper, the district health director for the Roanoke Health District in the Virginia Department of Health, characterized the committee as being “a community driven effort.”
The committee, which is comprised of representatives from the state health department, the local school division, the judicial system, the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA, a local free clinic, the county’s departments of social services and emergency medical services, and citizens, was started in the spring of 2017. Its mission is to “promote the health of the Botetourt community in a way that understands health to be all-inclusive.”
Harper explained that by taking an all-inclusive approach to health, the committee recognizes that in addition to being physically healthy, citizens need to have jobs, good schools, venues to socialize, and adequate transportation.
“Social determinants actually influence the health of people and communities,” she said.
In order to promote the health of the community, the committee determined what a healthy community should look like in Botetourt County and assessed both the positive and negative influences that were present.
While discussing the positive influences, or strengths, that are present in the county, Harper said that “Botetourt has a ton of them.”
“We looked at the county’s assets and resources so that we could mobilize them as needed to meet the challenges,” she said. “Our goal is to do whatever it takes to advance the health of the community.”
Previously, the committee looked at secondary data, preexisting data including crime statistics and other information from government organizations, gathered primary data via two surveys, and focus groups.
Through the focus groups, the committee narrowed down the scope of the committee’s areas of focus. In order to fine tune its findings, the committee will present a list of 14 areas of focus that came out of the focus groups at the upcoming meetings. The goal will be to narrow the list down even further— ideally to three main points.
“We’re at the point where we don’t want to go any further until we hear from the community again,” Harper said. “We want to community to come tell us which of the 14 they would like to see worked on.”
The end result will come in the form a community health improvement plan.
She noted that the committee firmly believes that if it were to simply meet on its own, without the input of citizens, in order to make decisions about the community health improvement plan, it would not be very successful.
At the meeting that the committee held on Monday at the Fincastle Library, Jason Ferguson, the chief of fire and emergency medical services for Botetourt County and a member of the committee, said that he joined the committee last year. He observed that the members are “active” and “engaged.” He stressed that the more feedback that it receives from members of the community, the better the community health improvement plan will be.
Julie Baker, supervisor for special education for Botetourt County Public Schools and a member of the committee, said that “it’s an exciting time for the committee.”
Sue Goad, the director of Botetourt County’s Department of Social Services and a member of the committee, said that it’s been interesting to see how the committee has grown over the past few years.
To register, contact Kristin.firstname.lastname@example.org or at 204-9972. Walk-ins will also be welcome. To request assistance with transportation to the meetings, contact Barbara Kolb at 798-7645.