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GREAT HEALTH DIVIDE: Rapides Foundation conducting community health assessment, uncovering health status of Cenla

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:36 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Foundation is conducting a study they may need your help with. Every three to five years, the local organization aiming to make Central Louisiana healthier, conducts a community health assessment to better understand the health status of our region.

In some areas, Central Louisiana is falling behind. According to Region Six Office of Public Health Director Dr. David Holcombe, the state of Louisiana is 50th out of 50 when it comes to poor health outcomes.

“The per capita income in Central Louisiana is $24,000, which is half the national average. So we have a lot of people who are just barely making it,” said Holcombe.

These families have a hard time buying a home, getting insurance, and even purchasing healthy groceries - leading to many of our health disparities.

Dr. Holcombe said many of these issues are centered around two factors.

“All of this makes a big picture around income and education level because if you can get the education, you can get the higher incomes and you have the mobility,” said Holcombe.

That’s where the Rapides Foundation comes in. Every three to five years, the organization conducts a community health assessment to better understand the health status of our region.

“One of the more recent findings that we just hadn’t been aware of was called disconnected youth and that’s the percent of your 16 to 24-year-olds that are neither in school or working and we had exceptionally high levels of that,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of the Rapides Foundation.

By conducting the study, Rosier and his team found results that help them implement programs in our school system to help students stay in school.

The foundation has also learned the importance of starting younger and earlier when it comes to school readiness.

“We’ve just put an emphasis and actually developed a program called “Read to Soar” that’s to help young families get their children reading at a very early age,” said Rosier.

The foundation has also learned the importance of keeping children interested in education, even high school.

“We work with all of the schools in the nine parish region to just have a better understanding of what works with kids and to try and get more to graduate high school ready to go to that next level,” said Rosier.

The foundation focuses on access to health care, healthy behaviors, income and education. So the foundation has been working not only to create more health clinics, but also to educate the public.

“We’ve spent a lot of time trying to have more community health clinics across the region, but it’s still going to go back to those health behaviors of tobacco, diet and physical activity,” said Rosier.

Because at the end of the day, it will take the community working together to solve some of these longer-lasting issues.

“The problems require long-term investments in education and the political will to allocate those resources,” said Dr. Holcombe.

The assessment is happening right now. If you receive a call from the Rapides Foundation, they want to let you know that it’s not a scam and your input would be greatly appreciated.

To learn more, you can visit their website or get in direct contact with them by calling 318-443-3394.

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