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Published: Thursday, 3/21/2002

`Healthy Lucas' unit considers its strategy

Everyone in the group “Healthy Lucas County” is, no surprise, supportive of improving the health of Lucas County residents. How to achieve that goal, however, is a challenge the group is just beginning to work out.

The group, which is made up of dozens of different agencies, and all Toledo area hospitals, met yesterday at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center to discuss their strategies.

Ten subgroups have been formed to address, among other things, teen smoking, access to health services, teen pregnancy, and health disparities in minority populations. Each group is expected to develop a specific game plan by September when a report will be presented, and the Healthy Lucas County group begins implementing its plan.

Healthy Lucas County began its work in 1999 when a countywide health survey was done so the group could get an idea of where to focus its efforts. Another countywide survey is planned for next year. Now that the group has data, it's been a struggle trying to decide priorities, said Dr. Stephen Roberts, chairman of Healthy Lucas County.

Dr. Roberts, a public health professor at the University of Toledo, said group members realize they have their work cut out for them.

“We're being extremely ambitious,” he said. “People have told us we're unrealistic, but we feel if we start slow we can accomplish this.”

One of the biggest challenges for the group will be finding funding sources, Dr. Roberts said. He added that everyone in the group is volunteering their time. The Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio is providing administrative support. The Lucas County Family Council funds the operating budget.

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