By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

LAMPASAS - The Lampasas County Health and Wellness Partnership is already taking steps to address health concerns raised by residents in a Community Health Assessment completed March 28.

The assessment evaluates the community's wants and needs for health care and health concerns, said Christine Mann, a Department of State Health Services spokeswoman. It creates a starting point for the community to address those wants and needs, and it provides them with some recommendations.

"(The assessment) basically summarizes what the community concerns are for health in the area and then makes recommendations," she said. "It is all in an effort to improve public health and maximize resources in a particular county."

The Department of State Health Services conducted the assessment for Lampasas starting in early February. It issued a survey about health concerns across the county and 779 people completed the questionnaire.

The survey identified the top major problems surrounding health to be driving while on the phone or texting, obesity and the lack of physical activity and exercise. It also identified the top three most difficult health services to obtain as vision care, health insurance and walking trails and sidewalks.

"By looking at the results, we can encourage more people to join the partnership and we can address the needs of the county," said Karen DeZarn, the partnership's co-chair.

The Lampasas County Health and Wellness Partnership did just that by conducting an open meeting to discuss the assessment with residents and to recruit more members.

The first meeting was a success - more than 40 concerned residents attended and several joined the partnership, DeZarn said. Adding people creates more resources and skills to address concerns.

The partnership is already investigating working with Llano and Burnet counties to address the needs of the under insured, DeZarn said.

It also has already scheduled a presentation for Lampasas High School freshmen to discuss the dangers of texting while driving, she said.

"One thing that came out of the survey was walking trails and sidewalks," DeZarn said. "Lampasas probably has more walking trails than people know about."

Based on the results of the assessment, the partnership will figure out how to better promote these trails, she said. It will also have to investigate the possibly of bring more walkathons and runs to the area, she added.

The partnership will use the assessment's findings for the next decade to help direct how it should accomplish its mission of making Lampasas a healthier county, DeZarn said.

"We are just going to focus on where we want to go from here," she said. "The mission is to create a healthy Lampasas County."

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