During a 2017 Status of Health update presented by the Health Officer to the Board of Health, a troubling statistic was presented.  A data point published by Maryland’s Statewide Health Improvement Process (SHIP) showed that Garrett County had the lowest number of well-child visits being completed in the state. This troubling statistic led to action among council members. It was also observed that other areas in the community were lagging behind the State metrics (i.e. HPV vaccination rates, teen tobacco use, child and adolescent obesity) could be impacted by an increase in well-child visits. An ad hoc coalition was formed out of the larger Health Planning Council to look further into the data and come up with solutions utilizing cross-sector partnerships to improve the rate. The group is called the Child and Adolescent Wellness Coalition and we invite anyone in our community to join. Here’s where we started:

First, understanding where SHIP was receiving the data they reported was necessary. The data was reported as “Adolescents Who Received A Wellness Checkup In The Last Year” is provided by Medicaid.

A provider survey was written by the coalition to assess how providers approach, perform and report a “Wellness Checkup”. This process helped engage our providers and a thorough analysis was presented to the providers at a Grand Rounds. The same analysis was presented to the Health Planning Council. Next, a parent and child survey instrument was written and administered by the members of the coalition to gain insight into the beliefs and barriers concerning wellness visits in the community. 

The coalition is using the data collected and breaking it down into data insights that are published across social media, utilized in email marketing, and published in the local newspaper to keep awareness about the issues top of mind, and placing a call to action upon our community to increase the rate.

The group is working on childhood and adolescent welfare and challenges surrounding mental health, obesity, and belonging. A Behavioral Health Provider Guide and a comprehensive county-wide mental health campaign were all organized and put into motion using this coalition.

Using and sharing data in a form that’s digestible for the public is one of the goals of the Population Health, Innovation, & Informatics Unit that coordinates Health Planning Council groups. There are multiple digital access points open to anyone with numerous ways to become involved in health improvement activities. We encourage people from our own local community who are beginning to learn about data with exposure and opportunities to track basic measures of community work to those more experienced that are ready to integrate primary data sets into our open data portal. We frequently utilize the Garrett County Planning Tool and the Garrett County Resource Guide and invite everyone to check them both out! These days we are not having in-person meetings but we can stay connected and keep up-to-date by visiting mygarrettcounty.com. There, you will find hundreds of topics people are working on that we hope will improve the quality of life in Garrett County. The coalition we mentioned earlier can be found by searching for the Child and Adolescent Wellness Workgroup at https://mygarrettcounty.com/groups/increase-adolescent-well-child-checks/.

But don’t stop there, you can join and browse other topics, share your input and ask questions. We want community members to share their voices!

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Shelley Argabrite
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