County looks for solutions for health issues in the area

The Marshall County Health Department and Marshall County Hospital used a survey they handed out to people to determine the biggest health issues in the area.

The health department received more than 700 survey responses. Based on those, the biggest issues are obesity, substance abuse and unemployment. Those are the same results the health department got three years ago, when the survey was previously handed out. The health department is now working to find solutions to those issues.

Since opening four and a half years ago, Marcella’s Kitchen has served almost 70,000 free meals.

"They get a good meal and don’t have to pay for it," said owner Marcella Perkins.

Perkins says too many people can’t afford food for reasons like unemployment.

"I definitely think there is that need, and it is a problem here in Marshall County," Perkins said.

That’s why she went to a meeting about the issues on Thursday. 

"They want to come together and see how, as a community, we can start to address some of these issues," said University of Kentucky Assistant Professor Dr. Angie Carman.

Carman went over possible solutions for those three biggest health issues.

"When we start to talk about these issues, you can start to see such a connection," Carman said.

Carman said the issues often overlap. For example: If you don’t have a job, you might not have as much money to buy healthy food, which leads to obesity. That might lead to depression, which could then lead to substance abuse.

"What’s good about that is, when we start to address reasons why they’re present, we can often impact more than one thing," Carman said.

She is working with the hospital and health department to form a coalition that will take care of those issues.

"I’ve seen it work lots of different ways around the state. This group just needs to be comfortable with how they choose to work on it," Carman said.

Perkins says maybe soon she’ll see fewer people needing her kitchen to get a meal.

"If the need went down, it would be good," Perkins said.

Those problems don’t only impact Marshall County. The two biggest issues Carman sees state-wide are substance abuse and obesity.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks Kentucky 12th in the nation for obesity. Kentucky’s overdose rates rank second in the nation.

Marshall County formed three separate committees to address the issues three years ago. The committees fell apart, so the county is forming one committed coalition to look over all the issues this year.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call the health department at 270-527-1496.

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