Disease prevention through wellness efforts is a big part of the program that is making Manatee county residents a little healthier every day. A team of healthcare providers, dietitians, physicians and behavioralist have come together with one goal -- to assist Manatee County residents in improving their quality of life, and are making a difference. All of those who attended the workshop, laid out their studies, described their programs and confirmed that, although we are still experiencing economic challenges, the county's healthcare report card is fairing well, and better that nearly all of the surrounding counties
Jennifer Bencie, MD, MSA Administrator, Manatee County Health Department, gave a first-rate presentations of facts, precise and clear, to just where we are on the healthcare map. She not only covered what are challenges were but how to go about even making them better. It was the nuts and bolts of why chronic risk factors are robbing us of life, like: Heart and respiratory diseases, strokes, cancer, substance abuse and motor vehicle crashes. Bencie spoke enthusiastically about the preventative measures we could all easily adopt into our lifestyles that would improve our life every day and the many days to come.
Dr. Bencie highlighted many of the programs available through organizations like: Manatee County Health Department, supporting a educational outreach program for minority and underserved populations, American Heart Association's, Go Red for Women (pro tu Corazon), heart disease awareness. There are programs from the America Cancer Society, The Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Safe Kids Coalition.
Ray Fusco, CFO Rural Health Services, Manatee Healthcare Alliance and Health Care Integration Committee, was up next. He brought up the "Innovation Grant." It a one billion dollar purse available to anyone or any company that applies for funding from it. The caveat, actually be able to improve the quality and reduce cost. It's called "The Health Care Innovation Challenge," and starts this spring.
Fusco stood firm on how you can't replace smart, and what once was a culture of more test, MRI's, consultants and outsourcing wasn't getting the job done. He said, "it isn't that complicated, it becomes complicated because in implementation, we all have our agendas."
Mary Ruiz, CEO Manatee Glens, filled the room with empathy and hope; she laid the truth and put it on the line. Ruiz can't be commended enough for championing the heartbreaking realities those in the extreme side of behavioral science must witness. Her statistics were shocking and her and her organization's efforts to tackle them extraordinary.
Their findings are:
-One third of adults have mental health issues -- as do one quarter of our children.
-One in eight visits to the doctor are for mental health problems.
-Three to four hundred ER admissions transferred to Manatee Glens each year.
-Seventy seven percent of substance abusers are currently employed.
-One in one hundred americans are behind bars.
-Five million dollars annually are spent on mental health in county jails.
-Eighty percent of adult inmates have alcohol addiction.
-Fifty percent of the children who are incarcerated have mental health problems.
-Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death.
-Fifty percent of behavioral diagnosis are missed.
The statistics kept coming, but the dedication and will to see through the despair and the efforts to implement programs to counter these realities was inspirational. Ruiz touched everyone in the room. Commissioner Joe McClash said, "I didn't know the jail mental health situation was so bad." He wasn't alone. Even though many programs have recently been cut from the Governor's budget to aid those suffering from mental illness, Mary Ruiz and those at Manatee Glens are here in our county doing all they can.
Bert Beard, Associated Administrator Manatee Memorial Hospital, spoke of their Osteopathic Residency Program and how happy they are to the high percentage of doctors and health care professionals that set up practice here after they graduate.
Dr. Chet Evans, Vice President Medical Education & Program Development at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, had LECOM students in the community at the Medical Science Academy.
All in All the one the one response that came from all of those you are involved in the focused efforts to bring proper health care to the entire community was directed to the County Commissioners. Many who spoke said we here in Manatee County have a commission that cares and the results definitely show it.
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