What makes a community healthy?
In Wauwatosa, a number of community organizations, city staff, health professionals and policy makers gathered for the first annual Legislative Breakfast. They reviewed how the City of Wauwatosa assesses public health and what their stakeholders say, the launch of the community health improvement plan, state legislation surrounding public health, and questions for your state representatives.
Wauwatosa Health Department Director and Health Officer Laura Conklin, MPH explained the results of the most recent community health assessment, particularly the strengths and opportunities of public health named by youth groups, senior representatives, city officials, and other constituents. The city’s public health advisory group meets annually to discuss data trends around topics such as binge drinking, drug abuse, mental health, nutrition habits, and other health topics.
Healthy Wauwatosa, a group of over 30 community partners, helped name the strategic priorities for 2018-2022 in the city’s Community Health Improvement Plan, and they are active partners in planning and programming to address these topics:
- substance use
- mental health across the lifespan
- nutrition and physical activity (healthy community)
- personal safety and injury prevention
State Representative Rob Hutton (picture above) shared related updates at the state level - particularly, the conversation about opioid use. He says it is through education and collaboration that we advance public health.
The discussion evolved to those in the audience making connections with the state legislation. Here are three ways to be aware and involved in the topic of opioid use:
- Expanding education and availability of prescription drop-offs. The City of Wauwatosa, among other communities host medication drop-off days, and the Wauwatosa Police Department accepts medications from residents.
- Having honest conversations with medical professionals. If you don’t anticipate needing as many number of pills after a surgery, for example, advocate for less medication.
- Locking a medication cabinet. This could be a simple investment and could prevent young children or house guests from ingesting medications.