MAPP framework guides healthcare improvement

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, June 26, 2019

LAPLACE — “Louisiana soars to No. 10” and “Louisiana eliminates all social ills” were among the headlines community influencers wrote last week when envisioning the progression of healthcare through 2025.

Representatives from mental health, domestic violence, agricultural, spiritual, nonprofit and governmental agencies came together in the spirit of collaboration last week at a Louisiana Office of Public Health workshop in LaPlace, each bringing a unique take on the priorities in the future of localized healthcare.

Short for Mobilizing for Action through Partnership and Planning, the Mini MAPP workshop gave local input to the State Health Improvement Plan to turn around Louisiana’s dismal healthcare ranking.

Different community sectors mobilized for action through partnership and planning last week at the St. John Parish Community Center in LaPlace.

As of December 2018, Louisiana was ranked No. 50 in America’s health rankings, according to Dr. Chip Riggins, medical director for District 3.

Riggins said St. John the Baptist Parish is among six parishes in a pilot group to bring healthcare down to the community level, bringing new depth to ongoing studies.

“Since 2015, we’ve been in a community health improvement cycle, and we’re wrapping that one up,” Riggins said. “We’re bringing the ship to shore and getting ready to launch our next cruise. These people are really helping us envision how we can make the next cycle better than the last one and bring it down to the local level. We had priorities at the regional level last time, and we’d like to have more ownership at the parish level.”

Local agencies service the healthcare spectrum day-to-day, each filling a special niche, according to Riggins. However, he said it’s rare for stakeholders to come together and use their individual experiences to set a common goal.

Valerie Baloney Johnson and Artis Williams work together at the mini MAPP workshop in LaPlace.

“The health of our community is so directly related to all of those things, to education, to transportation, to parks and rec, our faith communities and our churches,” Riggins said. “True health is dependent on success in all of those sectors. That’s what makes this work difficult. We tend to live in our own little bubbles in our agencies. Everyone does a great job in their lane. Everyone does vitally important services there, but we don’t have the shared vision.”

A fast-paced exercise at the mini MAPP workshop challenged small groups to do just that. Participants shared their visions of a healthier community and state and phrased ideal outcomes in a newspaper headline format.

St. John United Way representatives focused their vision on improving quality of life and length of life.

Others said healthy, thriving communities are a direct result of teamwork between different branches of health services. By the end of the exercise, several groups had drawn pictures of people holding hands to represent partnership between workforces, clients, students, volunteers, patients and citizen stakeholders.

Specific areas of interest were highlighted, including air quality concerns.

Another participant said one major health priority is to limit the chemicals released into the air by industries along the river.

Representing Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, Katie Richard said eliminating social ills means targeting the big factors negatively impacting residents.

“We’re focusing on maternal death rates, housing, food availability and the opioid epidemic,” Richard said.

Shirley Sims, executive director of Alpha Daughters of Zion Outreach, presents her vision of teamwork for a brighter healthcare future.

According to Riggins, Louisiana health leaders identified promotion of healthy lifestyles, behavioral health and building public health infrastructure as primary areas in need of improvement in St. John the Baptist Parish and the surrounding region.

Supporting behavioral health involves mental health and substance abuse outreach, while promotion of healthy lifestyles focuses on diet, exercise and cessation of smoking.

The mini MAPP workshop was one of the initial steps in building public health infrastructure, Riggins said.

An online health database is in the works, and Riggins said the River Region Chamber of Commerce has agreed to host an intern to aide in completion of the project. The database should be up and running within a year, Riggins said.