The Dyer County Health Council had much to be thankful for at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20.
The group, which creates a partnership between many Dyer County agencies interested in promoting health and wellness initiatives for area residents, meets at the Professional Development Center every other month. The meeting also serves as the advisory council for the TNCEP and Coordinated School Health programs in Dyer County.
At the November meeting, representatives of the Dyer County Health Department, Dyer County Ag Extension, Coordinated School Health, TNCEP, TennderCare, the Dyersburg Parks and Recreation Department, YMCA of Dyer County, Dyersburg Regional Medical Center and Dyersburg Manor - Rehabilitation and Nursing Center had many successful projects to report. The group also enjoyed breakfast provided by local Health Educator Kathy Robinson.
Several attending the meeting took part in the Dyersburg Intermediate School Turkey Trek, the second walk-to-school initiative promoted in the 2012-2013 academic year. Currently, DIS is the only school in the city system with sidewalks surrounding it. Organizers of the Turkey Trek are planning another walk in January and look forward to creating similar initiatives at other city schools once additional sidewalks are created.
Dyer County Schools Director of Coordinated School Health Jessica Roser updated Health Council members on the work CSH has completed in the Dyer County School System.
Projects include teaching hand washing to students in all the county elementary schools as a Healthy Child Week celebration; sending screening letters to all parents of Dyer County students; teaching CPR to 60 Dyer County High School ROTC students; and offering flu shots to all faculty, with 400 employees turning out to receive a shot.
"It was a huge turnout," said Roser. "It was a huge success."
The Dyer County CSH also submitted an application for a running club grant at Trimble Elementary School.
In addition to accepting a Bronze Award for meeting criteria in the Tennessee Healthier School Challenge at the Tennessee School Board Association Conference in Nashville, Roser also attended the Tennessee Nurses Association Conference in Murfreesboro.
Dyersburg City Schools Coordinated School Health Coordinator Nancy West said CSH leaders have attended several of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services "In Home Tennessee" planning meetings. The meetings are part of a statewide survey of providers to determine if the needs of children are being met.
Initiatives aided by the city schools CSH program include 188 flu shots provided to city school employees by C&C Pharmacy; four certified Physical Education teachers attending the Tennessee Association of Physical Education, Health, Recreation and Dance Conference in Murfreesboro in October; a DIS nurse attended the Tennessee Nurses Association Conference in Murfreesboro in November; dental sealants provided to eligible students at Dyersburg Middle School by the Tennessee Department of Health public health dental hygienist; and health screenings completed for pre-K through fourth-grade students at Dyersburg Primary School and DIS. The screenings include height, weight, BMI, vision, hearing and blood pressure checks.
West said the city school system also celebrated Child Health Week with the system's first walk-to-school event on Oct. 3. The "Students Without Motors" activity was followed up with the "Turkey Trek" on the morning of the Health Council meeting.
In cooperation with UT Extension and the Dyersburg High School HOSA class, "Germ City" was presented to all second-grade students in the city system.
In addition to collecting the city system's Gold Award for meeting criteria in the Tennessee Healthier School Challenge at the Tennessee School Board Association Conference in Nashville, West has attended a Coordinated School Health professional development meeting, the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth's Fall Conference and the Rural Health Association of Tennessee's annual conference.
Dyer County TNCEP Program Assistant Sheila Jacobi has a new helper in her second-grade classrooms. Rudy Raccoon is aiding Jacobi in engaging over 300 second-grade students in a new curriculum designed to teach them about nutrition.
Jacobi was also busy baking pumpkin muffins to pass out as samples at Feed the Need.
University of Tennessee Ag Extension Agent Beth Bell has 30 participants in the first part of the E.X.C.E.L.L. program, a portion of the county's recent Project Diabetes grant. Bell thanked DRMC for its help in pre-screening participants and the YMCA of Dyer County for the use of its personal trainers during the program.
Bell said the second phase of the E.X.C.E.L.L. project is about to begin. The second component will lean on the City of Dyersburg's Parks and Recreation Department, utilizing the Bruce and Future City activity centers.
Tennessee Department of Health TENNderCARE representatives Deborah Leggins attended the Health Council meeting to network with other agencies and offer her assistance at upcoming health events in the community.
Leggins serves as an ambassador to residents who might not know the depth of care their children can access through the TENNderCARE system. All TennCare recipients are eligible for TENNderCARE benefits from birth through the age of 21. Benefits include dental, vision, well-child checkups and even help for behavioral issues.
Leggins said many eligible residents are unaware of the benefits available to them through the TENNderCARE program.
In addition to providing breakfast Health Educator Kathy Robinson updated members on the success of the Dyer County Health Department's recent Take Control of Diabetes classes and her efforts to connect with Dyer County High School students in preparation for the Great American Smoke Out on Nov. 15.
City Parks Director Andy Baker said the city parks department is preparing for the second half of the E.X.C.E.L.L. program, and is offering Zumba classes at Future City Activity Center. He also stressed the importance of the city's recent disaster preparedness meetings.
Baker joined YMCA of Dyer County President and CEO Randy Butler and two others on a trip to Bristol where the Pioneering Healthy Communities Dyer County Steering Committee brought back a grant, rode a school bus around the Bristol racetrack and biked down a mountain and into a bicycle-friendly town in Virginia.
YMCA of Dyer County President and CEO Randy Butler said the center has been very, very busy this autumn. As the YMCA maintained its fall sports programs, Butler and other community organizers created the Northwest Tennessee Football Association under the umbrella of USA Football and held its first championship, bringing 24 teams to town at the end of October.
The YMCA of Dyer County has also been funded by the United Way for "A Year of Change", a program that works with five youth challenged with weight issues, pre-diabetes or diabetes. The program works with the children and their families for a year, with Butler stating youth participating in the program are already beginning to see a difference.
Butler said the Creeper Trail in Virginia, a 35-mile multi-purpose rail trail in southwestern Virginia, could be the inspiration for a local project.
"It's an old Rails to Trail trail that intersects with the Appalachian Trail," said Butler. "We have a Rails to Trail possibility that goes out toward Tigrett, where folks could go around the wildlife preserve. It could become a destination, even if we don't have a mountain. We are looking at ways to connect Dyersburg to Newbern and to Tigrett."
Butler said on the second day of the trip, Dyer County PHC representatives met with Blue Cross/Blue Shield representatives on the obesity cycle in the state. The Dyer County PHC recently received one of very few grants awarded by the organization.
"We got great accolades from them," said Butler, who said the Dyer County PHC team and local health enthusiast Bart Williams have also both been honored with the Governor's Shining Star Award.
Butler said the Dyersburg-Dyer County community was commended for its teamwork by fellow participants of the Bristol conference.
Bell said Dyersburg State Community College President Dr. Karen Bowyer has approved adding sidewalks to the college campus along Parkview, a vital link to connecting sidewalks downtown in a new urban trails initiative.
"We also did get permission for the urban trails through the city," said Bell. "We are very excited about that project. We don't have the funds, but we have permission. So, if anyone knows an Eagle Scout looking for a project - or a civic organization or business -- it is a very good idea."
DRMC Marketing Director Melissa Caldwell highlighted the hospital's initiatives since she joined the Health Council in February.
"In October, we had the most successful Healthy Woman event to date," said Caldwell. "The speaker was Elizabeth Smart and it was an incredible event. I am very pleased to be a part of that. In the works now, is the planning of the next anniversary event."
Caldwell said the hospital is also actively pursuing a female OB/GYN, working on a children's back-to-school event for next July, and is in the process of relocating its Women's Center.
Caldwell is also busy planning the 2013 Healthy Woman schedule, including a high-tea event for mothers and daughters in McIver's Grant Public Library's new facility.
Holly Bullington of Dyersburg Manor spoke of the rehabilitation and nursing center's participation in the Reason for the Season Food Drive, which offers family members of Dyersburg Manor residents the chance to "Fill the Wagon" with canned-good donations.
Bullington also provided information on Medicare Part A benefits available for skilled nursing care, physical, occupational and speech therapy at a skilled nursing facility for Medicare Part A patients with a qualifying three-night stay in a hospital or those who require 24-hour specialized nursing care. The benefits may be claimed within 30 days after the hospital stay, with patients able to be admitted directly from their home.
Rooms on the rehabilitation floor are set up similar to hotel rooms, rather than a permanent dwelling. This offers patients a fresh atmosphere and reinforces the feeling of a temporary stay. Bullington said therapy can be provided to patients twice a day, but will be provided as often as the patient can tolerate it.