BUCYRUS – — Health, wellness and quality of life improvements have been on the minds of many Crawford County residents lately, and many community organizations and businesses are developing strategies in these areas. Crawford: 20/20 Vision’s next Crawford Conversation hopes to synergize these efforts and discuss how improving the county’s health, can also improve its wealth.
“Our Quality of Life Team has been working on wellness initiatives over the years— from partnering with the Crawford Park District on some of their improvement projects, to working with the cities to explore developing bike trails, to the work we’re doing to bring a Sports Complex to our area,” said Gary Frankhouse, Crawford Partnership’s Executive Director and Economic Development Director. “It’s time to take it to the next level.”
Currently, Crawford County ranks 63rd in Ohio for per capita income, and 74th in the state for overall health, Frankhouse explained. Meanwhile, one county over (Delaware County) is number one in both areas.
“I don’t believe that is a coincidence,” Frankhouse said. “We need to close the gap.”
According to the Community Health Assessment, recently completed by Crawford County Health Partners (CCHP), obesity and heart disease cause the most illnesses in Crawford County, and make the highest impact on residents’ and employers’ healthcare costs. CCHP is working with private and public sector leaders to develop a Community Health Improvement Plan, and the Crawford Partnership is working with them to ensure collective impact.
“In talking with other Economic Development and Healthcare leaders in the state, it’s clear that certain lifestyle changes can also reduce healthcare costs for employers and families,” Frankhouse said. “Imagine how that could influence our economy.”
Crawford Conversation— 20/20 Vision’s Leadership Lecture series— will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Pickwick Place in Bucyrus.
Themed A Business Case for Health, this lunch and learn will feature local Galion High School Alumni Bill Mechling who spent 33 years in the Employee Benefits industry. While his career focused on industry-leading, comprehensive wellness strategies that drive down employer healthcare costs, Mechling’s personal story is what the Partnership thinks will truly resonate here in Crawford County.
“Diabetes is responsible for more than 60 other illnesses and costs $8,000 per year more in medical spend,” Mechling said. “Currently, 80 million Americans are pre-diabetic and 90 percent of them don’t even know it— I was one of them.”
UnitedHealthcare’s RealAppeal— a program that focuses on weight loss through education and nutrition— put Mechling in the best physical and mental shape of his life. And, he is no longer pre-diabetic. While RealAppeal isn’t available except through UnitedHealthcare, Mechling said the education he and his wife received, and the lifestyle changes they made as a result, are worth sharing. He hopes his former community, Crawford County, will be able to benefit as well.
To that effort, UnitedHealthcare is sponsoring nine Crawford County residents in RealAppeal and many of them will talk about their success at Crawford Conversation. In addition, the luncheon will feature presentations from the Crawford County Health Partners and the Crawford Partnership. Avita Workwell and other community health agencies and businesses will also be present, and Avita Health Systems will be providing participants with a healthy meal.
“Our partners for this event— Pickwick Place, Avita and Crawford County Health Partners— all have a stake in this,” Frankhouse said. “Healthier employees miss work less, are more productive and are more likely to become active in their community. We hope this Conversation will lead to more collaborative efforts and community events to encourage health and wellness in Crawford County. We hope more employers will offer programs that focus on weight loss through nutrition, and we hope more local retailers will offer healthy and affordable meal choices.”