Health Improvement Coalition moves forward with goals

Since its inception in 1995, the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition has maintained a community health presence with an active board of directors representing broad community interests and engaging task forces with community volunteers seeking data driven responses to community needs.

LCHIC has addressed a number of health-related issues, including child obesity, communication within the families, positive behaviors among teens, safe practices for infants and children and community awareness on safety issues involving the elderly and school children.

The administration is composed of volunteers committed to maintaining LCHIC initiatives.

In December 2013, the organization was sent into “survival mode” to save its efforts of previous years. These last three years of ìtransitionî have maintained the LCHIC presence and “brand” in the community.

The Coalition has maintained 38 board of directors from a variety of walks of life.

In 2015, LCHIC recorded $38,536 in income/revenue and documented $32,575 in Coalition and program expenses. This amount will allow the Coalition to partially fund the Strengthening Families Program scheduled for mid February and also provide a base for new opportunities to sponsor other programs, e.g. SADD conference, in-kind expenses for current programs and increase in 2015 budget line items.

LCHIC has always sought applicable grants to fund its advocacy. In the past, it has funded other groups and programs to carry on its mission.

In December 2014, LCHIC received a First Community Foundation Partnership (FCFP) grant to train Strengthening Families Program facilitators. This evidence-based program encourages family communication.

In 2015, LCHIC received three other grants, including two from FCFP to fund the Safe Kids Task Force program ($10,000) and the Youth Development Task Force ($11,000). A restructured Fitness Challenge program received a grant of $1,817 during the summer from Clinical Outcomes Group Inc. to fund a program coordinator and materials/supplies for Firetree Center and Pennsylvania College of Technology summer programs.

LCHIC has maintained task forces composed of community agency volunteers and board members who work on specific data-driven community needs.

The Youth Development Task Force has gathered local school counselors and engaged students from seven of the eight school districts (the eighth district just joined in December). Its charge was to increase youth awareness of the anti-drug message.

In 2015, the “what is your anti-drug” campaign encouraged all Lycoming County school district students to seek non-drug behaviors with positive examples of other student activities.

CARHA, for Community and Rural Health Awareness, has reviewed several rural health initiatives. Facilitators from local agencies and schools were trained (four from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District also were included) by national trainers. The inaugural training was held in February 2016 at the Williamsport Area Middle School. Funding from Lycoming County Children and Youth and the LCHIC budget covers facilitators time, incentives and a program coordinator.

Health and Wellness Task Force or the LCHIC signature program, Fitness Challenge since 2008, experienced a drastic reduction in program delivery in late 2014. Two previous coordinators resigned due to health issues.  The task force members involved took on the prospect of saving the program with a revised fitness nutrition program. The evidence based program with a COGI grant presented the program to two local summer programs.

Safe Communities Task Force continues to seek community issues that make the county a safer place to live. This task forces has successfully reintroduced safety messages in the AAA newsletter at minimal cost, SADD conference partnership and focus on elderly safety.

Safe Kids Task Force has partnered with Safe Kids of Pennsylvania and directs attention and materials to infant and youth safe practices. The number of contributing task force members includes local police, fire, safety education and the county coroner’s office. Public Service announcements featuring individual task force members and a safety message are updated and run continuously on Backyard Broadcasting stations. A 2015 FCFP grant of $10,000 to the task force funded child safety seats, bike helmets, cribs and mattresses, smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors. Future grants in 2016 are being sought to maximize the social media, print and other media in community awareness on kid’s safety.

LCHIC is proud of its 2015 accomplishments when it could have maintained an organization with no leadership and minimal funds. We are engaged in the community with public service announcements, parades, schools, improved website (lchic.org), Facebook and any potential partner opportunities.

The Coalition will continue conservative fiscal management and demonstrate its commitment to the historical mission of health and safety improvement. Immediate goals include utilizing the board’s community representation and educating the community on all efforts identified as significant community health and safety needs.