PANAMA CITY, Fla.– The Florida Department of Health in Bay County held its first Forces of Change meeting today for the 2019 Community Health Assessment, with participants from many areas of expertise in attendance.
The department wants to receive input from the community and organizations through open, two-way dialogue, and encourages community members to come to the meetings to share their opinions.
Group work, brainstorming and discussions led to attendees reporting they felt encouraged about the potential to reach solutions to many of the community’s major issues.
“It’s a good opportunity to go around and talk about positives, opportunities for improvement, weaknesses, or areas that need to be addressed for the public’s welfare and concern,” said Sandon S. Speedling, Interim Administrator for Florida Department of Health in Bay County. “I thought it went very well, [we received] a lot of good feedback.”
Halfway through the meeting, the attendees split into four groups to discuss what they identified as major issues in the community. The issues could have come from times before or after Hurricane Michael, or stem from a different situation.
The groups used paper and pens to find the root of each problem, as well as potential ways to solve the problems and various agencies that could provide assistance.
Areas discussed included a lack of housing and homelessness, the loss of the community’s tree canopy, difficulties with health and homeowner’s insurance and the lack of access to clean water and healthy foods in certain parts of the community.
“What I really appreciated about the meeting today is we were solution-oriented,” said Tammy Dunaway, who works in Business and Community Health at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center. “So many months after the hurricane, I go to a lot of these meetings, and we’re still talking about the problems. And we have to do that, there’s something healthy in that. But it’s time to be solution-oriented.”
The next meeting will be held August 7, but the location is to be determined. Stay connected with mypanhandle.com for updates on the location.