A Davenport Citibus has a large advertisement on its side to promote blood pressure screenings for adults. Similar ads have been placed on billboards, in movie theaters and in brochures. It’s all part of a message the Scott County Health Department is trying to convey.
And it’s an example of how the department is using some federal grant funds to promote health and wellness.
Back in 2011, the department received a $327,500 Community Transformation Grant, part of $3 million the state of Iowa was allocated as part of the federal Affordable Health Care Act.
Scott County is in the second year of the five-year grant program, which translates to $65,500 per year.
County money basically is being spent on infrastructure upgrades, said Amy Thoreson, the department’s deputy director. “Grant money is here one day and could be gone the next, so we try to work with our community partners on those improvements.”
The brochures carrying the health and wellness messages have been placed in physicians’ offices in Blue Grass, Davenport, Eldridge and LeClaire. There are also magnets and posters that focus on chronic disease prevention and management.
Thoreson said the county partners with the Generations Area Agency on Aging to promote chronic disease management. “That is, for example, if you have diabetes, how you can better manage the disease yourself,” she said.
West Lake Park provides another example of how the grant is being used. This past fall, trail markers were posted that include codes with GPS locators. Hikers can use them to easily see how far they have hiked and track personal fitness goals. And if hikers get lost, they can call for help and use the GPS markers to pinpoint their exact location.
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“That’s one way to make the trails safer and easier for people to use,” Thoreson said.
Scott County is not the only public health agency using the grant for promotional purposes. The Iowa Department of Public Health partnered with bars, taverns and restaurants around the state to distribute another health message. Coasters that included a trivia question and a message urging people to get screened for colon cancer were placed at eating and drinking establishments in 21 cities around the state.
“If everyone 50 years or older was screened regularly, as many as 60 percent of the deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided,” said Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the state health department director. She pointed out that Iowa is among the top five in the United States for cases of people diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer.
That coaster campaign runs through March, which is also National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.