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Cape County Coalition


A community coalition to address health and nutrition has been formed in Cape Girardeau County as a result of a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment completed earlier this spring by SoutheastHEALTH and Saint Francis Healthcare System. The assessment was also conducted by the healthcare organizations in Scott, Stoddard and Bollinger counties.

The year-long assessment process included surveys and eight community focus groups reaching more than 600 individuals in the four counties. Other research included the 2010 U.S. Census, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s county health rankings, and information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The health assessment is part of an Internal Revenue Service requirement for not-for-profit hospitals across the nation. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, not-for-profit hospitals are required to complete a community health needs assessment every three years in order to maintain 501(c) (3) status.

The top priority health and associated health behavior needs for Cape, Bollinger Scott and Stoddard counties:

  • Obesity (diet and exercise)
  • Cancer (smoking)
  • Chronic disease
    • Diabetes
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Substance abuse/mental health
  • Healthcare availability and affordability (access)

In Cape Girardeau County, SoutheastHEALTH is partnering with the community coalition to focus on healthy lifestyles and nutrition and how these can have a positive impact on many health factors including obesity.

Missouri ranks among the worst nine states in the nation for obesity with rates of 30 percent or more.

“Obesity is a national epidemic, causing higher medical costs and a lower quality of life,” said Matt Shoemaker, DO, an infectious disease specialist and vice president of Physician Services at SoutheastHEALTH. “Working together, the community coalition will organize and lead initiatives to address healthy lifestyles and weight management. We are committed to making the most positive impact possible on the overall health of the region we serve.”

Serving on the coalition, led by the Cape County Public Health Center:

  • Jeremy Barnes, Southeast Missouri State University
  • Julia Thompson, City of Cape Parks and Recreation Department
  • Shane West Anderson, City of Jackson Parks and Recreation Department
  • Matt Shoemaker, DO, SoutheastHEALTH
  • Tom Diemer, MD, Saint Francis Medical Center
  • Levi Olson, Old Town Cape, Riverfront Market
  • Kay Azuma, Community Caring Council
  • Jane Wernsman, Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center
  • Jennifer Volkerding, Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center
  • Beth Emmendorfer, Jackson R-2 School District
  • Deena Ring, Cape Girardeau Public Schools
  • Tim Arbeiter, Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Brian Gerau, Jackson Chamber of Commerce
  • Nate Saverino, Southeast Missouri State University Athletics Department

Kevin Sutton, Decision Support coordinator at SoutheastHEALTH, added that the coalition will also “support initiatives already in place, such as the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce’s fitness/wellness programs, community gardens and farmers’ markets, nutrition and exercise programs in our schools and medical weight management programs currently in place at Southeast and Saint Francis.

SoutheastHEALTH and the Cape Girardeau Public Library recently partnered to create a “neighborhood” of health and fitness information in the non-fiction area of the library. The resources on health and fitness topics are grouped together, making the information more accessible and appealing to library patrons.

Sutton said SoutheastHEALTH is also partnering with county health centers in Scott, Bollinger and Stoddard counties to address the top priorities identified in those areas. Childhood obesity will be the focus for Scott County and access to healthcare and health information will be addressed in Bollinger County. In Stoddard County, Southeast, along with the Stoddard County Public Health Center and the Dexter Community Regional Healthcare Foundation, will concentrate on smoking and the myriad of health issues related to it.

The assessments of Cape, Bollinger, Scott and Stoddard counties are available on our Community Health page.

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