For the past eight years I have had the privilege of working at Central Kansas Foundation in Salina, Kansas. Central Kansas Foundation is a non-profit organization employing 65 people that provides a wide-range of quality substance use prevention and treatment services. I serve as the Tobacco Program Coordinator and get to work on a wide range of community initiatives that help make the healthy behavior the easy behavior.
I received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Pittsburg State University and a Master of Science Degree in Health Promotion & Wellness Management from Missouri State University. I am a Certified Fitness Trainer through the Institute of Sport Sciences Association and completed the workplace wellness training requirements for the Wellness Councils of America Faculty designation.
I am currently participating in the Kansas Health Foundation Fellows Program that is addressing smoking & mental illness. I also Chair the Primary Prevention Committee for the Chronic Disease Alliance of Kansas and serve on the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition Board.
I started running in the sixth grade and competed in cross country and track and field in high school and college. I know how being physically active has benefited me and I have always believed that prevention is the key rather than waiting and treating people when they are sick.
Through the Kansas Health Foundation Fellows Program I have gone through leadership training at the Kansas Leadership Center which has helped to identify things I can work on to be a more effective leader.
During the last two years we have changed our focus from working with individual organizations to working on community-wide initiatives. One of the biggest needs that we identified through our community health assessment was smoking & pregnancy.
I put together a community team with representation from the seven organizations that work with pregnant women in our community. We began by reviewing best practices, identified what was currently being done in our community, and are developing a plan for how to address smoking & pregnancy including providing training on talking to patients about tobacco to staff at each agency.
The main focus of our initiative is to get organizations to adopt systems level changes (5A’s or 2A’s & R) so that all patients are asked about tobacco use, advised to quit if they use tobacco, and linked into cessation programs. By getting people to use cessation programs you can more than double success rates.
The 7 Benchmarks apply whether you are working within an individual organization or on community wide initiatives. We have strong support from leaders at each organization and have a strong and diverse smoking & pregnancy community team. We used the data from our community health assessment to identify smoking & pregnancy as a priority focus area. Reviewing the evidence base assisted us in developing our operating plan including development of the trainings and materials to provide to patients. We chose strategies that have to be shown effective and also are sustainable. Providing the trainings and having a 2A’s &R or 5A’s system in place provides an environment that supports staff talking to patients about tobacco. The Kansas Tobacco Quitline has a fax referral program that we will implement which will provide us with data on the number of people who enroll in Quitline services and the number who completed all ten counseling sessions.
I am a long distance runner and compete in a variety of events ranging from the 5-K to the marathon. I feel it is important to live wellness in my own life; however I realize that not everyone will be a marathon runner, so I encourage people to make small changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
In 2009 I went through the Leadership Salina Program through the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Salina Community Foundation. The leadership training I am receiving through the Kansas Leadership Center is helping me to continue growing and developing as a leader. I also have a leadership coach who is helping me learn to better identify the adaptive challenges and make sure that I am not trying to do technical fixes when what is really needed is an adaptive solution.
I would encourage all health promotion professionals to take advantage of and seek out opportunities for leadership development. It is also important to remember that leadership can come from all levels.
During the last two years we have worked to change our focus from working with individual organizations to working on community wide initiatives. We have also focused on getting out of the “silo approach” and partnering more with other organizations that are focusing on chronic disease reduction initiatives. In addition to the pregnancy & smoking initiative I am also a part of an initiative to identify ways to improve access to healthy foods which includes looking at healthy concession policies and the formation of a Food Policy Council.
Although we are still early in the process of doing community-wide initiatives, one positive change has been in how the health promotion community views chronic disease risk reduction. Whereas before it was all about doing health fairs and handing out brochures, it is now very focused on systems and environmental changes that are sustainable and bring the community together around one issue.
This is a truly exciting time for the health promotion community. As we move from providing “sick care” to “well care” health promotion has the opportunity to become a part of medical care. Worksites are also taking notice and quickly becoming more and more interested in worksite wellness. And overall as a society it seems like we are finally realizing that we need to focus more on prevention and on creating communities that make the healthy behavior the easy behavior.
In the next five years I will continue focusing on leadership development, identifying the adaptive challenges that need to be addressed, and inspiring community members so that everyone sees their role as a wellness champion in our community. By doing this, making the healthy behavior the easy behavior will move from being my vision to being a reality.