Rock County receives $450,000 health grant
JANESVILLE For years, the health of Rock County residents has ranked near the bottom compared to the rest of the state.
Officials identified many needs to improve the county's standing and started talking about solutions.
Now money is available to make that change.
The Transform Rock County Coalition announced Tuesday it received a $450,000 grant to be used in the next 2 1/2 years to promote physical activity, healthy food systems and smoke-free living.
"It's a huge opportunity for us," Rock County Health Officer Karen Cain said. "We're very excited to receive the money and be able to work in collaboration with our community partners on improving the health of the county."
A project manager will be hired to oversee implementation of the grant, and money will be available for a consulting firm to do an in-depth study on the health of county residents, she said.
Cain said the coalition would focus on three areas:
-- Improving nutrition for children. Farm-to-school nutrition programs will be explored.
-- Increasing physical activity. The group could work with schools to have facilities more available to communities.
-- Reducing exposure to second-hand smoke. The group will target multi-unit housing so those residents have a better opportunity to reduce their risk to second-hand smoke.
The four hospitals in the county worked with the health department on a health needs assessment that was released in spring. It found the top health needs are mental-health related issues, including substance abuse and inadequate access to treatment; dental health services it said are "greatly unmet;" preventive health screenings, which it found are underused; and that many residents have harmful lifestyle choices, including obesity, smoking and inactivity.
Statewide county health rankings also released earlier this year show Rock County ranks 58th out of 72 counties for overall health.
The Transform Rock County Coalition includes the health department, health care systems and clinics, some school districts, UW-Extension and nonprofits including Youth2Youth, Boys and Girls Club of Janesville, Partners in Prevention and Stateline Family YMCA.
The federal grant money from the Centers for Disease Control is administered through Transform Wisconsin, which awarded six communities with $450,000 transformation grants, Cain said.