Transportation, behavioral health and drug abuse prevention, along with a need for a parish wide resource coalition are among the top health care priorities in Allen Parish.

The issues emerged as the parish's top three health care needs following a recent community action planning workshop.

The National Rural Health Resource Center's Delta Region Community Health Systems Development Program staff recently joined Allen Parish Community Healthcare to host the workshop in Kinder.

"The purpose of the workshop was to narrow down and establish the top three needs of the community and the disparities which could impact the health care of the community," Kimberly Caldarera, marketing director of Allen Parish Community Healthcare said.

To accomplish the task, representatives of "all sectors" of the parish were invited to attend the six-hour workshop and share their concerns.

Twenty-nine members of the community, including business owners, elected officials, educators, healthcare leaders, counselors, veterans, law enforcement officers and more participated in the event.

"We were able to touch every sector of Allen Parish," she said.

During the workshop, the group worked together to review health outcomes, present assessment results to understand community members' concerns and priorities related to those health outcomes. The group also worked together to establish a community priority plan and prioritize where to begin and develop an action plan.

"Our goal is to empower the community and make a lasting and positive impact on health care in our communities," Caldarera said.

From a list of more than 30 needs, transportation, behavioral health and drug abuse prevention and a parish wide resource coalition rose to the top of priority health concerns in the parish, she said.

The group will begin meeting monthly to formulate ways to address the community's needs and develop strategies to tackle them, she said.

"The three priorities will require individual group planning utilizing area resources to resolve current disparities related to those needs," Caldarera said.

Caldarera said the ultimate goal of the group is to connect resources and funding to address transportation needs related to health care and resolutions to address mental health issues. The group also hopes to form a healthy coalition to help local residents know what resources and services are available to the public.

"One of the things that came from this workshop that was very surprising to everyone is that people do not know about the different resources and services that are available to them," she said.

The group created a list of about 20 things offered in the parish the general public are not aware of, she said.

American Press | published Saturday-Sunday, April 15-16, 2023 | by Doris Maricle