Faced with reports that regularly show Yuba County citizens as among the unhealthiest in the state, the county public health department is creating three new programs it hopes will improve those numbers.

"We look at the same stats you do," Greg Stone, executive director of the nonprofit Peach Tree Clinic told Yuba County supervisors during a Tuesday morning workshop. "They are hard to look at."

Stone and county interim Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Kinnison outlined the new programs as part of the workshop looking at the county's consistently poor health rankings. The most ambitious is a partnership between the county and Peach Tree that would address the prevalence of diabetes patients in the county. "I would like to think this is a real flagship project," Stone told the board. "I think this is something we can really move the needle on finally."

The proposed partnership, which would have to be formally approved by supervisors, would involve the creation of a "one-stop center" for diabetes patients at the clinic. Yuba County public health would handle case management for the program.

Only seven counties in the state were worse off than Yuba County in 2009-11 in age-adjusted death rates for diabetes, according to the state Department of Public Health. There were 27.7 diabetes-related deaths per 100,000 people in that three-year period, ranking 51st out of 58 counties, the state said.

Stone said the program, which would start as early as next April, would provide transportation for diabetes patients to and from the clinic where they would be able to access all services in one location. Diabetes patients frequently have a difficult time getting to appointments that are often spread over multiple days, he said.

In addition, the program would provide sessions on "how to eat, how to shop and how to cook," Stone said.

"We know early intervention works," Stone told supervisors. "I am sure I can get the insurance companies behind it. They are seeing the same numbers we are."

In addition, Kinnison proposed a program that would seek accreditation from the nonprofit Public Health Accreditation Board. That would increase the county's ability to acquire health-related grants, he said.

Kinnison also outlined plans to create a wellness program for county employees that could eventually be expanded to include other governmental agencies and businesses.

Such a pilot program would promote exercise programs and activities, health screenings, fitness competitions between departments and web-based health-related information.

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