TAFTON - Have you ever tried substituting the words “I will” for “I’ll try” or “challenge” for “problem?”
Try it and you could begin to change your life—for the better. That was the message of a pair of speakers who kicked off the Prevention Initiative breakfast, an annual meeting for community leaders focused on improving the health of local residents.
John and Cheri Rinehart of Rinehart Consulting presented “Power Talk,” a program designed to show how using certain words and phrases can put you on a positive life pathway.
“If you change your words, you can change your life,” Cheri Rinehart told the crowd. of about 125 gathered at Ehrhardt’s on the Waterfront in Tafton on July 25.
Change and how to influence it dominated the conference, which included representatives from many different social agencies, civic groups and businesses, as well as local officials and concerned individuals.
The Prevention Initiative is the local partnership branch of the State Health Improvement Plan Partnership (SHIP).
Wayne Memorial Hospital is the lead fiscal agent for the Prevention Initiative. Donna Decker, RN, Wayne Memorial’s Community Health manager, welcomed the group and noted that many healthcare changes had been made in the last year, thanks to a 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment.
This survey of 1,300 people in Wayne and Pike counties and the Carbondale area identified three priorities for improvement that many in the audience knew well: behavioral health, substance abuse, and chronic disease.
All three were addressed by speakers.
Rashesh Dholakia, MD, a child and adult psychiatrist with Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) and Frederick Jackson, WMCHC’s executive director both pointed out that WMCHC has worked to respond to both behavioral health and chronic disease needs by increasing providers and services.
In the last few years, WMCHC has added six new doctors’ offices, including a second Behavioral Health Center in Lords Valley (the first is in Honesdale).
Wayne County Drug and Alcohol’s Assistant Administrator Melissa Wertman told the group that heroin is an epidemic here and across the U.S. because it’s inexpensive and easy to get, but help is available.
“Call our office at (570) 253-6022,” said Wertman, “and we’ll get you help.”
Recovery Specialist Austin O’Malley spoke about his own battle with substance abuse and the hard road to recovery.
Both he and Wertman urged the audience to give people in recovery a second chance and not discriminate in jobs or housing.
Other speakers at the event included Carbondale Mayor Justin Taylor, Wayne County Commissioner Wendell Kay, Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin, and Margaret Ennis, Administrator at the Wayne County Office of Behavioral and Developmental Programs and Early Intervention.
In his closing remarks, David Hoff, CEO of Wayne Memorial Health System, said Wayne Memorial will continue to expand services to meet the needs of the community.
“Our success also depends on community support,” Hoff said, “You help us change and grow.”
The breakfast was underwritten by the Link programs in Wayne, Pike and Carbon counties, all affiliated with local Area Agencies on Aging.