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GREENFIELD — With 71 percent of Greenfield residents classified as overweight and only 32 percent getting the recommended moderate exercise of 30 minutes five days a week, the Greenfield Health Department is finalizing its community health improvement plan to address the city's health priorities.

The health department is asking residents to check out the draft health assessment and give their opinions and feedback.

"Your feedback and insight into this process are encouraged and necessary, and we hope you can participate," health department director Darren Rausch wrote to residents last week.

He is asking people to call up the health assessment draft at greenfieldwi.us/228/Health-Data

Feedback may be given at  surveymonkey.com/r/GFassess17 until Friday, April 21.

Coalition study

The Healthiest Greenfield Coalition of residents and community partners has been working since 2015 on the health assessment to determine the city's health priorities.

Among their findings is that 73 percent of residents responding to a telephone survey eat two or more servings of fruits a day and only 15 percent of respondents consume at least three vegetable servings each day. Generally, the recommendation is four to five servings each day for both fruits and vegetables, Rausch said.

Nationally, 76 percent do not meet fruit intake recommendations from national health organizations, and 87 percent do not meet vegetable intake recommendations.

When the coalition looked at behavioral health, including substance abuse and mental health issues, about seven percent of Greenfield residents surveyed in 2015 reported feeling depressed all the time or nearly all the time. An equal percentage said they had considered suicide in the past year.

Residents surveyed cited mental health or depression as one of the top three community health issues.

The report notes that drug abuse exists in Greenfield as evidenced by Narcan (naloxone) having been administered 24 times to prevent fatal opioid overdoses, according to Greenfield Fire Department data.

Lots of seniors

Greenfield has considerably more senior citizens than the average community, the coalition found. Census data indicate that nearly 21 percent of Greenfield residents are at least 65 years old. The statewide average is 14 percent. The coalition notes that Greenfield is home to several large nursing homes and senior living facilities.

That has implications for the health department, Rausch said.

"With an aging population, we are susceptible to aging-related issues including dementia, Alzheimer’s, need for caregivers, living wills, and power of attorney documents," Rausch said.

While nursing homes provide care for their aging populations, senior living apartments and some assisted living facilities do not  have the same level of services, he said. That's where health departments should step in.

There is no way of telling the percentage of Greenfield residents are at least 65 years old and not living in nursing homes, he said.

Data good

Even so, the nursing home residents did not inflate the obesity rate or lack of exercise data in the health assessment, he said.

"No, because the Greenfield Community Health Survey data is collected via phone survey to landlines and cell phones," he said. "Most nursing home resident phone numbers would be eliminated by the survey collection methodology."

If the draft report remains unchanged after getting public feedback, it is hard to say whether health department services would change, Rausch said.

"I cannot directly answer this question, because the work outlined in the future community health improvement plan is not conducted by the health department alone but in close connection with partners throughout the community," he said. 

The last community health assessment and community health improvement cycle occurred in 2011 and 2012.

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