With the Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. on the cusp of turning 50 years old, one of its departments is celebrating its decades-long service to the community, too.
Community Action’s Family Health Services, headed up by Ada Amburgey, who has been with the agency for more than two decades, is focused on health needs and education. The department has been a part of Highland County Community Action (HCCAO) for more than 40 years.
The family health services department has a number of different programs that include reproductive health, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), breastfeeding classes, lead testing, pregnancy testing, and child car seat safety.
WIC, Amburgey said, is a long-running, supplemental nutrition program within HCCAO. For those who qualify, the program supports pregnant women, post-partum and breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children up to 5 years old.
It has healthy foods that are available to those in the program, she said, like milk and juice, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
WIC provides nutrition education and support, breastfeeding education and support, health care referral, and immunization screening and referral. And something new since June, Amburgey said, is that the program no longer utilizes coupons, but instead uses something like a debit card.
The program is a proponent for breastfeeding, too. Amburgey said monthly breastfeeding classes are held and are open to anyone wanting to be a part of them. Breastfeeding peer helpers are also available for information and support. There is also a library at the HCCAO offices that is open to the public that includes books and videos, Amburgey said.
In trying to help people learn to make better health choices, smoking cessation for pregnant mothers is also something that is offered through Family Health Services.
The program is called The Baby & Me, and focuses on getting mom smoke free during pregnancy, and staying smoke free after giving birth.
“The program has been going pretty good,” Amburgey said of the success that has come in mothers staying away from tobacco use.
Lead testing is available at Family Health Services. Blood is taken to determine if lead is present, Amburgey said, adding that Highland County is one of the Ohio counties where lead testing is done because of the number of old homes in the area.
The department currently has a safe-sleep campaign going on that promotes the “ABCs” of a safe sleeping environment for an infant – alone, back, crib.
The agency has had a car seat program since 1999, Amburgey said. A yearly grant provides for 60 child car seats and booster seats, she said, which are to help those who cannot afford them.
Also available through the Family Health Services is reproductive health, formerly known as family planning.
According to the agency’s website, the program “empowers” both men and women by providing the “information and means to exercise personal choices to determine the number and spacing of their children.”
Constructing a reproductive life plan is another aspect of the program, helping women to be healthy and stay healthy, which increases the chances of a healthy baby someday. Also, a range of family planning methods are offered.
STD screenings, pregnancy testing, services to teens, yearly exams, and HIV testing are just a few more pieces of what the program offers.
There are three clinics with locations in Hillsboro, Greenfield and Wilmington and all services are based on a sliding fee scale. Visits include education on topics like abstinence, exercise, good nutrition, domestic violence, and substance abuse, according to the agency’s website.
Referral sources are also provided to those who seek assistance through HCCAO’s Family Health Services.
Amburgey said that agency staff can help people obtain medical care. She said the agency is like a “one-stop shop” with the services offered and the referral sources provided.
She said that the overall goal for the department is to give people the tools they need to have a healthy life.
“To me, everything we do here helps people access some form of care,” she said, through education, support, referrals, and services provided. “We want to ensure that people have access” to health care.
Another way Family Health Services helps with that is providing counselors to help people navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Amburgey said the next open enrollment is Nov. 1, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016. Anyone interested in being able to talk to a counselor can call the agency at 937-393-3060. Brenda Whitt is the agency’s certified applications counselor.
“Helping People. Changing Lives.” are the words people see as they enter through the doors of HCCAO at the North High Business Center. Those words are what the agency is all about, executive director Julia Wise said.
Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. opened in November 1965 and operates a number programs to benefit people in the community. The agency is a private non-profit organization, not a county, state, or federal entity.
HCCAO is planning a 50th anniversary celebration for October or November with details to be provided at a later time.
For more information about the agency call 937-393-3458. Information is also available on the agency’s website at hccao.org. HCCAO is located in the North High Business Center at 1487 N. High St., Suite. 500.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.