Chester County rolled out a plan Friday to reduce health disparities, increase awareness of its health services, create safe and healthy environments, prevent disease, and coordinate services that address both physical and behavioral health needs.
Officials unveiled the Community Health Improvement Plan to about 100 community leaders, county department heads, and others at the Government Services Center. The plan is a culmination of the county's RoadMAPP to Health initiative begun in 2011. More than 60 organizations worked to form the plan.
"Everything is starting to come together," said Jeanne Casner, director of the county Health Department. "This doesn't stop today. This is another beginning."
County officials are working to complete specific plans of action and will track the progress of the five priorities they identified during 18 months of evaluation and 18 months of planning. Officials said they would regularly update the plan in the years ahead as they get new data.
Chester County consistently ranks among the healthiest counties in Pennsylvania. Maintaining the county's high ranking and improving community health are two county priorities. The plan unveiled Friday is a major component of these goals.
County officials want Chester County to have a steady No. 1 health ranking among Pennsylvania counties by 2019.
Chester County was named the second-healthiest county in the state this year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The county ranked No. 1 in 2010 and 2013.
The county health ranking measured 29 factors, including access to mental health care, rates of preventable hospital stays, levels of physical inactivity, percentage of children in poverty, college attendance, and food environment.
"While we are a healthy community by many measures," said Kathi Cozzone, a Chester County commissioner, "we recognize we can always make improvements."
By 2018, county officials plan to increase regular physical activity among residents by 3 percent and to reduce the proportion of overweight or obese youth by 1 percent, according to priorities the county commissioners have identified.