Way forward for Healthcare Convention Ends With Plan To Tackle Meals Deserts In Jacksonville – Information – The Florida Instances-Union
At the end of a two-day Future of Healthcare conference, Sunil Joshi, conference chairman and president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, announced that a committee would be formed to develop a policy proposal for dealing with food deserts in Jacksonville. Food deserts are areas where fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods are not available.
The challenge of getting food retail chains to set up stores in areas considered food deserts is that most of those areas are not connected to urban water and sewer systems, City Council President Lori Boyer told the conference. No major grocer would consider setting up in a septic tank-dependent area, she said. She suggested that the city consider tax breaks in order to set up stores in these areas to store fresh food.
The city’s Health Zone 1, which includes the urban core, is not just a food wasteland but a food swamp, said Kelli T. Wells, director of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County and assistant secretary of health. She defined a food swamp as an area where the sources of food available are mainly fast food restaurants.
They are also areas with high poverty rates and a lack of job opportunities, she said. About 35 percent of people in Health Zone 1 live in poverty.
The Duval County Medical Society and Foundation decided to hold this first Future of Health Care conference because Duval County is underrepresented in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. In the 2016 ranking, Duval fell to 55th place among the 67 Florida counties in the ranking published at the end of March.
Joshi said the purpose of the conference is not just to identify problems, but to actively seek solutions. Because of this, Richard Mullaney, director of the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University, was the penultimate speaker and outlined a seven-point plan for those present to formulate and implement a change in public policy.
After announcing that the prosecuted public order proposal would affect food deserts, Joshi said Mullaney had pledged his support in the process.
The conference opened on Monday evening at the University of North Florida when David J. Barbe, President-elect of the American Medical Association, delivered an opening speech.
Barbe praised the conference as “a groundbreaking event in this country … that promises great future prospects”.
Barbe also made it clear that the official AMA policy is that the Affordable Care Act, regardless of its shortcomings, has reduced the number of uninsured Americans from 50 million to 30 million, which the AMA sees as a positive.
“To be without insurance means to live sicker and die younger,” he said.
The 2017 version of the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives would significantly increase the number of uninsured Americans, Barbe said, and “really, really put the safety net at risk.”
Audrey Moran, senior vice president of social responsibility and advocacy at Baptist Health, said Duval County has a very serious problem with treating people with mental health problems due to the lack of psychiatric beds and trained therapists.
She told the story of her own son Michael, who developed such severe depression at age 14 that his therapist sent him to the Pediatric Behavioral Health Department at Wolfson Children’s Hospital for fear of committing suicide. He was treated successfully.
When he was ready to return to school, Moran said she asked him what he would tell his classmates.
“Mom, we need to talk about it,” she said, he told her. “It can’t be a secret.”
Today, she said, her 22-year-old son is preparing for his senior year at the University of North Florida, where he is studying psychology to become a child psychologist.
Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413