• NQF is collaborating with 10 groups in communities across the nation to provide on-the-ground testing of the Improving Population Health by Working with Communities—Action Guide 1.0. The testing is the second phase of a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support efforts to improve population health. NQF continues our series of Q&As with field testing groups this month with a conversation with Judy Crabtree, the executive director of the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement (KCCHI) in Charleston, West Va. KCCHI identifies and evaluates health risks and coordinates resources to measurably improve the health of residents of Kanawha County. NQF spoke recently with Judy about the coalition’s work and its collaboration with NQF.

    NQF: How would you describe your community?

    JC: With just over 191,000 residents, Kanawha County in south-central West Virginia is home to about 10 percent of the state’s population and the county seat, Charleston. It contains over a dozen riverfront towns and numerous unincorporated and rural communities. There are over 6,000 businesses in Kanawha County, and people commute to work from surrounding rural areas—often driving 50 miles or more to get to work. A regional decline in chemical, natural gas, and coal industries has negatively affected smaller, rural communities that relied on these industries to thrive.

    NQF: What are the two biggest challenges your community faces?

    JC: Thirty-six percent of adults and 23 percent of children living in Kanawha County are overweight, and about 32 percent of adults and 26 percent of children are obese. Residents in general have a poor diet and many report little to no physical activity. Many communities lack safe places to walk, bike, or be active.

    Illicit and prescription drug abuse also is of great concern in Kanawha County, and clandestine methamphetamine laboratories are particularly worrisome. West Virginia ended 2014 with 312 meth labs, the third highest number in state history. Most of these labs were discovered in Kanawha County.

    Some of the things we’re doing to address these concerns include working with local businesses to increase opportunities for employees to be active and eat healthy while at work, as well as implementing drug prevention strategies in schools and after-school programs. We're also working to educate parents and help them have conversations with their children regarding prescription drug abuse.

    NQF: How has participating in NQF’s Population Health Framework project helped to further KCCHI’s work?

    JC: Our work with NQF has been a thought-provoking exercise, engaging leadership in discussions surrounding our assessment process and possible new directions for coalition activities, additional stakeholder groups, and ways to have a measurable impact within three years. We also have benefitted from the introduction to helpful new resources and experts in the field.

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