A healthy community needs to be built from the bottom up. Those things that affect the children need to be addressed so that the children can have a better shot at growing up into healthy adults. Low birth weights, poor nutrition and a lack of physical exercise are all major contributors to the incidences of childhood illness and disease. Children can not control the environments that they are born into so everyone needs to work together in order to make sure that all environments are healthy so that the kids stand a shot of first off making it to adult hood and then being healthy when they get there.
The health of the community in Duval County, Florida seems to very cyclical. There is a high incidence of poverty and unemployment rates that usually lead to high degrees of crime and drug use. Those that live in these poorer neighborhoods are less likely to have access to or the financial ability to pay for health care. This often brings about high occurrences of teen birth rates with low birth weights and a very high amount of infant mortality. These children are often at a great disadvantage from the very beginning.
There seems to be a lack of health education within the school systems. It has been reported that most high school students have poor nutrition and most are not enrolled in any type of physical education class. It is also obvious from the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and high rates of teen births that there is also a lack of sex education within this segment of the population. The children in Duval County are basically unhealthy.
These same children are growing up to be very unhealthy adults. Over 60% of all the adults within the county are obese. There are high amounts of people who are suffering from diabetes, cancer and AIDS/HIV. A great deal of the adult related health issues stem from the lack of medical care that these people are receiving. There are a great amount of people who have no access to health insurance and thus do not have a primary care doctor that they see on a regular basis. A lack of preventative medical care only leads to more disease and illness. If people do not seek professional help on an ongoing basis then little ailments that could more than likely be treated easily end up ballooning into full blow diseases and illnesses that require a greater degree of care at an increased cost.
These unhealthy adults are also having children of their own that are growing up in the same environments that they did. This makes for a very cyclical pattern that will continue until something is done. The cycle needs to broken with some interventions to help these people get back on the right track.
Since more emphasis is being placed on healthier communities one of the primary roles of community health nurses is to assess communities in order to determine their health relation in relation to it assets and needs. This activity can also assist communities in developing a consensus about the priority health problems in their individual communities and developing strategies to address the issues identified. Some of the health priorities that have been identified in Duval County include:
Inadequate resources for indigent/uninsured overall, but especially in regards to prenatal care
Inadequate resources for school health care
These are the problems that really need to be addressed so that the overall health of Duval County can be improved. If improvements in these areas are developed and implemented a tremendous improvement in this community's health will be seen over time.
These are the types of issues that community health nurses help address within a community. Public health nurses dedicate themselves to the health and well-being of the communities in which they serve by educating people in beneficial health practices and disease prevention. They also help to identify common health problems within the community while treating patients and working to create intervention plans to correct or prevent the health and safety issues that they discover along the way.
A community wide action plan needs to be put into place to address these critical issues so that the overall health of the children can be improved so that they can grow up to be healthy productive adults. This plan needs to address the areas of education and access as its top priorities. There needs to be education programs in place in the schools to teach the children about proper nutrition, the importance of physical activity and exercise along with education surrounding teen pregnancy and STD's. The goal would be to promote good eating habits and increased physical activity in order to try and reduce the incidence of obesity among the children. The program surrounding teen pregnancy and STD's would be aimed at reducing the number of teen pregnancies and the incidence of STD's in teenagers.
Another part of the plan would need to consist of outreach programs that would address things such as diabetes, cancer, obesity and preventative care including prenatal care for teens and others. The key to disease prevention is education and regular checkups. The community needs to address the fact that so many of its residents don't have access to health insurances and thus are not seeking medical attention on a regular basis. These people are missing out on the education and preventative testing that needs to occur so that diseases like diabetes and cancer can be prevented or treated early in order to improve the survival rates.
Having education programs that surround topics like obesity and prenatal care would help to get the needed information into those peoples hands that need it the most. Increasing prenatal care would help to lower premature births, low birth weights and infant mortality. All of these issues are easily identifiable as issues that occur because people don't know how to or do not have access to the care that they need. Obesity education would not only help to decrease the incidences of overweight people but will also help to decrease things like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which can all lead to death. The more education and prevention services that are put out there the more success that the community will have at improving its overall health and wellness.
Duval County, Florida is definitely a community that has need. Although on the surface it seems like nice place to live, the true problems from which is suffers are not very apparent. Once you delve down deeper though, one quickly realizes that there are health issues that need to be addressed. Due to the fact that there are many poor, predominately African-American neighborhoods there are a lot of residence that have no access to affordable healthcare. There are high rates of both drugs and crime which does not help. Most of these people are stuck in a way of life to which they have no idea on how to get out. The education and resources that community health nurses have to offer these people is invaluable not only to the individuals but to the community as a whole.
Helping to break the cycle of poor health care within the community will not only help each individual right now but will help them to improve the lives of their children so that future generations to come will have a better chance of becoming healthier. The rewards of what can be done know will have long lasting impacts for many years to come. The problem can not be solved unless a solution is developed and implemented to as many people as possible. The more resources that are available the better the solution and the more effective it will be.
Crimes reported in Duval County Florida Crime 2000. (2007). Retrieved February 23, 2010,
from FedStats Web site: http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/crime/county/12031.html
Duval County, Florida (FL). (2010). Retrieved February 23, 2010, from City Data Web site: