The Mission of Hunterdon and Mercer County Regional Chronic Disease Coalition:
Hunterdon and Mercer County Regional Chronic Disease Coalition’s mission is to build stronger working relationships to reduce chronic disease and cancer burden through population-based policy and system changes, and environmental improvement projects (PSE). These initiatives are achieved through partnerships between local public health care providers, human service organizations, churches, worksites, schools, and community/civic groups, cancer survivors, and interested parties. The coalition establishes and maintains community-wide involvement in the planning, coordination, and implementation of cancer and chronic disease-focused initiatives.
About the Hunterdon and Mercer County Regional Chronic Disease Coalition:
The Hunterdon and Mercer County Regional Chronic Disease Coalition is a grant-funded project made possible by the New Jersey Department of Health Office of Cancer Control and Prevention. The Coalition is housed at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center and is coordinated by Amanda Medina-Forrester, MA, MPH.
Hunterdon Medical Center has been an active participant in the State’s efforts to provide Hunterdon County residents with cancer education, early detection/screening, and cancer treatment services since 2003 through the Hunterdon County Cancer Coalition, and more recently, in 2013 through the Coalition. In 2013, Hunterdon County conducted a community needs assessment that both validated as well as expanded upon the data from previous community needs assessments, extending beyond cancer to explore the impact of chronic disease, lifestyle choices, financial status, age, race, and ethnicity on the health of our community.
Healthcare and community leaders in Mercer County provide similar support and services to their residents, initially driven by a capacity needs assessment that was conducted for Mercer County. Subsequent data from the County needs assessments, Health Rankings and Roadmaps identify clear opportunities in Mercer County, and data from all these reports drive the efforts of the Coalition. For the past few years, the two counties have worked jointly to develop and implement the most appropriate strategies for providing effective cancer and chronic disease prevention initiatives for their residents by allocating resources to educate their communities on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices.
For instance, the Coalition has workgroups to increase colonoscopy rates through the use of the ACS Toolbox, educate healthcare professionals on the importance of cervical cancer screening and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations, educate elementary students and adults about the importance of sun safety, create tobacco-free environments by smoke-free parks and recreational ordinance adoptions, and support Complete Streets and other Shaping NJ toolkit projects, which promotes the value of good nutrition and exercise to improve the overall health of their community.
Currently, our Coalition continues to grow to build stronger working relationships to reduce chronic disease and cancer burden through population-based policy and system changes, and environmental improvement projects (PSE). The Institute of Medicine report stated, “It is unreasonable to expect that people will change their behavior easily when so many forces in social, cultural, and physical environment conspire against such change.” (Smedly & Syme, 2000).
These population-based PSE interventions will engage more effective conversations among coalition members to work collaboratively on chronic disease risk reduction in our communities, but there is still much work to be done. The current Coalition team is prepared to continue to improve the health of Hunterdon and Mercer County residents by striving to develop the effective tools towards a common goal. Future efforts will focus on working with county stakeholders, such as county residents, healthcare centers, faith-based organizations, public health officers, and community health improvement plans (CHIPs) to address health priorities.
The Coalition team has made great strides and will continue to bring the right people to the table with strong, positive relationships in the communities we serve to create lasting and meaningful PSE change.
Past Meeting Minutes:
Amanda Medina-Forrester, MA, MPH – Coalition Grant Coordinator, Hunterdon/Mercer County
2100 Wescott Drive, Flemington, NJ 08822
Martha I. Speakman, AS, CMA (AAMA) – Community Liaison, Hunterdon/Mercer County
2100 Wescott Drive, Flemington, NJ 08822
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