August 26, 2015 – Executive Director Denise Bulat stressed the importance of a healthy region because health affects all parts of a community, including work, environment, education, agriculture, food production, water and sanitation, housing, and health care. Health is 60% lifestyle, behavior, society, and environment, and government affects these factors. Some of the key activities in the region are alternative transportation planning and coordination, land-use and environmental planning, participation in health initiatives, and coordination of topical issues.
Alternative transportation planning includes preparation of ordinances and grant writing for projects such as sidewalks, multipurpose trails, Safe Routes to Schools, transit, rail, and complete streets guidelines. In the area of land use and environmental planning, items include mixed-use development, zoning/subdivision regulations, recreation planning, and air quality/water/solid waste/planning. As an example, the Muscatine Blue Zones project shows continued progress with the development of a sidewalk policy, a bike and pedestrian plan, the addition of miles of new sidewalk, and recreation improvements to parks, trails, soccer fields, and riverfront areas.
Bi-State’s participation in health initiatives and coordination of topical issues include the Quad City Health Initiative (QCHI) along with the Be Healthy QC Coalition; the West Liberty, Wilton, and upcoming Buffalo asset mapping projects through the Iowa Department of Public Health; the Partners in Community Health grant with QCHI; and the Food Hub. Future opportunities in the Bi-State Region are the consideration of policies within the workplace that encourage wellness, like healthy snacks, exercise opportunities, and vending options; projects that encourage wellness such as built environment improvements and local food systems; understanding and supporting mental and physical public health needs; and taking personal responsibility for one’s own health.
Nicole Carkner, Executive Director of the Quad City Health Initiative (QCHI), reported the organization has provided the planning and communications backbone to enable cross sector community health improvement in the Quad Cities for over 15 years. With the financial support of its founding sponsors, Genesis Health System, UnityPoint Health-Trinity, and other partners, QCHI has built an infrastructure that currently harnesses the collective work of more than 120 volunteers from 60 organizations and reaches thousands of community members.
The Quad Cities excels at developing cross-sector partnerships and making a collective impact as a region. The Quad City Health Initiative board partners include representatives from the business, healthcare, education, public health, government, community, and philanthropic sectors. Bi-State and local governments as well as county health departments have seats on the board.
The Be Healthy QC Coalition was formed with members from Bi-State, local cities, Community Health Care, Deere & Company, health systems, school districts, the Quad City Medical Society; county health departments, social service agencies including United Way, and the YMCAs to address issues that could improve community health. Activities include promoting worksite wellness programs/policies; school wellness policies; nutrition and physical activity interventions in preschools and childcare facilities; the number of people who have primary care physician driven medical homes; a built environment that supports active living; and access to healthy foods especially fresh fruits and vegetables. One major project is the administration of the Partnerships to Improve Community Health grant to reduce diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. QCHI was one of 39 awardees nationwide. The activities funded with the grant are enhanced comprehensive school wellness with a focus on healthy food; establishing neighborhood gardens and distribution centers; developing an interactive, web-based trails map that shows connectivity between public resources for physical activity; and creating Safe Routes to School travel plans. Bi-State is conducting the latter of these two activities.