Three top healthcare issues with room for improvement in Rockford, Illinois, are opioid abuse, high blood pressure, and obesity (NYU Langone Health, 2021). Obesity is a significant contributor to multiple chronic diseases and metabolic disorders (Jakobsen et al., 2018). Chronic diseases accounted for most US healthcare costs and decreased productivity (Chapel et al., 2017). Global Burden of Disease researchers (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2021) acknowledge that these diseases increase societal costs, morbidity, and mortality by limiting healthy days lived.
Several national initiatives are underway that have a local impact on this burden of disease. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) endorses using Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) to mitigate opioid abuse and the societal effects of chronic substance abuse (SAMHSA, 2020). The American Heart Association provides a comprehensive public health education program on steps to control high blood pressure to reduce heart disease and strokes (American Heart Association, 2021). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021) offers multiple interventions to reduce obesity in the Healthy People 2030 goals outlined by the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.
Concerned voters could influence local policymakers to transfer these national initiatives to Rockford with an informed advocate, such as the DNP scholar. The advocate starts by building a grassroots coalition of the voting public to endorse specific improvements to existing health policy. Next, prepare a health policy brief, then research and contact the policymakers to open discussion. The brief should specify the problem and current policy while providing a rationale for change that includes the impact of the health problem on the constituency. Harnessing the power of multiple voters increases the likelihood that those in power will actively consider a policy change. Social media, like Twitter, can be used to build this coalition. My suggested tweet is #HealthyPeople 2030, #Healthy Rockford! Improve our community step by step! Healthy People 2030 | Data & Statistics | DNPAO | CDC (Links to an external site.)
Dr. Riley presented her case to Congressman Aiken just as recommended. The DNP scholar was prepared and researched the issue and her audience’s stance on healthcare access. Dr. Riley met with stakeholders to inform discussion with the congressman on the impacts and relevance of improving access to transportation in her community. Dr. Riley introduced herself as a concerned health professional and advocate, presented the pros and cons of the proposed clinic bill, and stated appreciation for partial gains while remaining open to future improvements. She was thankful and expressed her willingness to offer professional support on future projects. Dr. Riley’s approach left Congressman Aiken with a positive memory of Dr. Riley, specifically, and the profession of nursing and nurse practitioners as collaborative partners in health policy. She could have provided a business card, including email in parting. A follow-up email thanking the congressman would support this memorable encounter.
American Heart Association. (2021). Five steps to control your blood pressure. Five Simple Steps to Control Your Blood Pressure | American Heart Association (Links to an external site.)
Centers for Disease Control and Health Prevention. (2021). Healthy People 2030: Indicators and objectives align with DNPAO’s work. Healthy People 2030 | Data & Statistics | DNPAO | CDC (Links to an external site.)
Chapel, J.M., Ritchey, M.D., Zhang, D., & Wang, G. (2017). Prevalence and medical costs of chronic diseases among adult Medicaid beneficiaries. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 53(6, S2), S143-S154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.07.019 (Links to an external site.)
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. (2021). GBD Compare. GBD Compare | IHME Viz Hub (healthdata.org) (Links to an external site.)
Jakobsen, G.S., Smastuen, M.C., Sandbu, R., Nordstrand, N., Hofso, D, Lindberg, M., Hertel, J.K., & Hjelmesaeth, J. (2018). Association of bariatric surgery vs. medical obesity treatment with long-term medical complications and obesity-related comorbidities. JAMA 319(3), 291-301. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.21055 (Links to an external site.)
NYU Langone Health. (2021). City Health Dashboard: Rockford, Illinois. Rockford, IL – City Highlights | City Health Dashboard (Links to an external site.)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Naltrexone. Naltrexone | SAMHSA
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