In recent years, Bourbon County received a Blue Cross Blue Shield grant for $500,000 as part of the Pathways to a Healthy Kansas program, to be used to improve the health of county residents by various means.
Jody Hoener of Mercy Hospital, who also works with Pathways and the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team met with the Bourbon County Commission January 17, and shared the needs of the program and how the commission could be involved.
Hoener said, since 2012, Bourbon County has ranked in the bottom 10 percent of Kansas counties concerning the health of its residents. Out of the 101 counties recently ranked, Bourbon County has been ranked as high as 97th in health, including factors such as level of activity, access to healthy food and tobacco use.
The commissioners agreed to cooperate and meet with Hoener and other team members as the county forms a Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, to do an inventory of the trails and sidewalks available to the community. An assessment will also be made to see how accessible healthy food is for county residents as well as how the Highway 69 corridor can be used to promote activity and good health such as through bicycle lanes.
“Not only is the transportation plan important, but the access to healthy food is important, too,” Hoener said.
The commission would be consulted as the plan is formed and as priorities for the county are developed. The opinions of the county residents are also considered through the use of surveys and public meetings.
The study of the county’s needs and creation of the plan, with the assistance of the PedNet Coalition – Pedestrian and Pedaling Network, will cost about $55,000, paid for out of the Pathways grant. Uniontown will have a separate plan to help meet their specific needs.
“I think it’s a good solution,” commission chairman Lynne Oharah said of the plan and the teamwork between the county and the Pathways teams.
Bourbon County is also looking at becoming involved in the WorkWell Kansas program, promoting worksite wellness at businesses by providing incentives up to $10,000 per participating business.
By promoting wellness in the workplace, Hoener said employers can decrease rates of illness, injury and absenteeism among employees, such as by decreasing the sedentary rate, the amount of time employees spend sitting at a desk each day.
Each participating business will have a team of representatives that will attend workshops and form a plan for their businesses.
The county commissioners voted to be involved with the Pathways program by being members on some of the boards, which included focuses such as schools, worksites, food and retail, restaurants, community policy, healthcare and resident community well-being.
Commissioner expressed the importance of promoting health in the county and taking advantage of the grant while the funding is available.