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Healthy Communities Initiative

What is the Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) of Jefferson County?

Funded by the King's Daughters' Hospital Foundation and with resource support from King's Daughters' Health and the Envision Healthy Communities Committee, the Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) of Jefferson County focuses on bringing community members together to address the major health needs of the community - making our county a healthier and safer place to live.

What major health needs are addressed by the HCI?

HCI uses the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) produced for King's Daughters' Health to determine the major health needs for the county. The most recent CHNA determined the following to be the top health issues in Jefferson County with the HCI team to address this issue identified in italics:

  • Substance abuse/addictions—Substance Abuse Team.
  • Overweight and obesityHealthy Lifestyles Team.
  • Tobacco use—Healthy Lifestyles Team.
  • Lack of physical activity—Healthy Lifestyles Team.
  • Chronic disease—Healthy Lifestyles Team.
  • Mental health/suicide—Mental Health/Suicide Team.

How can I join one of these teams?

Everyone in the community is welcome and encouraged to join one or more of the HCI teams. To learn more about each team, click on the links below or email Carri Dirksen at

Additional information may be found on the HCI Facebook page.

Healthy Lifestyles Team

The Healthy Lifestyles Team works to lower our county's obesity rate, prevalence of chronic disease and tobacco usage. They promote healthier choices regarding nutrition and physical activity.

Healthy Lifestyles Resource Guide (2018)

The team launched its first month-long Healthy Lifestyles Wellness Challenge to the community in June with activities focused on the following four areas:

  1. Physical activity.
  2. Nutrition.
  3. Community.
  4. Mindfulness.

Individuals completing 10 items under each of the four areas were eligible for one of 30 prizes donated by area businesses.

The team is currently working on creating an on-line and paper version of a Community Health Resources Guide.

Workplace wellness will be another focus of this team this year.

Substance Abuse Team

Substance Abuse was identified as the top health concern for Jefferson County in the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment. The Substance Abuse Team works closely with the Jefferson County Justice, Treatment and Prevention (JCJTaP) program on what we can do as a county to work on this issue on a local level.

There are four active sub-committees that have arisen from this team:

  1. Community Resource Guide Subcommittee. This team is working on creating a community resource guide both online and as a paper version incorporating treatment options, support groups and any other information found to be valuable both for those with substance abuse issues and for their caregivers.
  2. Drivers/mentors. During this team's meetings, the need for drivers to take individuals to and from treatment was brought up as a need in the community. Upon further discussion, the need for positive mentors/support was also brought up. This concept has been addressed in communities of similar size. This subcommittee is evaluating what would be needed to do such in our community.
  3. Mentors for Moms. Many babies in our county are born addicted to substances. The babies are weaned off the substance and then are sent home to their mothers and/or other caregivers who may not know how to care for a baby and give it the support it needs for its mental and physical development. This subcommittee is looking into establishing a Mentor for Moms program in the community which would partner these mothers with a positive mentor who will serve as support to these mothers and teach them how to be a better parents/caregivers to these babies.
  4. Neighborhood watch program. This subcommittee arose from citizens seeing drug activity in their individual neighborhoods and not knowing how best to proceed to combat this issue. A pilot neighborhood watch program is set to launch later this year as a partnership between a local neighborhood and law enforcement.

Mental Health/Suicide Team

The suicide rate for Jefferson County far surpasses state and local averages. With this in mind, this team has partnered with the Madison Consolidated School (MCS) system as it pursues a Counseling Initiative Grant. Part of the planning for this grant includes the addition of more suicide prevention training for the students, teachers/faculty and parents/caregivers. This needed training will be adopted whether or not the grant is awarded.

This team is also currently working on the following subcommittees:

  1. Community Mental Health/Suicide Resource Guide. Both an online and paper version of such a guide will be created both for the individual and for the caregiver.
  2. Zero Suicide Initiative. This subcommittee is evaluating what is needed to establish a Zero Suicide Initiative in Jefferson County.
  3. Suicide Prevention Training.
    • A listing of all those in the county trained in the two-day Applied Suicide Intervention skills Training (ASIST) who may be able to train others.
    • A listing of those trained in Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training which is a two-hour course. This subcommittee is also working on promoting QPR training to be a part of established civic and other group meetings in the county.

Tobacco Prevention Team

The Jefferson County Tobacco Coalition is a group of citizens and community leaders dedicated to reducing tobacco use and advocating for policy change in Jefferson County. Our goal is to improve the overall health of our community through tobacco prevention, cessation and education efforts.

Areas of interest include:

  • Tobacco-free worksites, schools and housing
  • Educating youth about the harmful effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke
  • Advocating for the right to breathe smoke-free air
  • Promoting the Indiana Tobacco Quitline

If you are interested in participating in the coalition and its activities, contact Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coordinator Natalie Garrett at 812.801.0598.

For free help with quitting tobacco, call 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669).

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