Public Health Initiative “Be Well, Saginaw” Launching This Week

Citing Saginaw County’s ranking as among the least healthy counties in Michigan, eleven local organizations are partnering to launch a new initiative aimed at improving health outcomes.

It’s called “Be Well, Saginaw,” and will focus on what the Saginaw County Health Department calls three of the most significant health issues facing Saginaw County residents: maternal and child health, mental health and substance use and obesity and chronic disease.

“If COVID-9 has taught us anything, it’s that overall health plays a major role in how diseases impact a community,” says Christina Harrington, MPH, health officer/director, Saginaw County Health Department, who spearheaded Be Well, Saginaw. “To prevent, mitigate and prepare for any future events, we need to work collaborately to build a healthier Saginaw – one that is more resilient so that, if or when we experience the next wave or disease, we experience less severe illness, lower hospitalization, and fewer deaths.”

Key statistics drive these priorities as key indicators of a community’s overall health:
· Saginaw experiences 12.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (highest in Michigan)
· 28% of pregnant women are not receiving early prenatal care
· 10% of babies born in Saginaw Co. are low birth weight and 9% are born pre-term
· 16% of Saginaw residents describe their mental health as “not good” for a period of more than 14 days when assessed (pre COVID)
· 22% say they are depressed (pre COVID)
· 22% report excessive drinking habits (pre COVID)
· 75% of nearly 400 Saginaw County adults randomly surveyed between 2018 and 2020 identified themselves as being overweight (27.2%) or obese (47.4%).

A new website , plus Facebook and Instagram pages will be going live some time this week.

Saginaw County’s “Be Well Saginaw Partner Coalition” includes: Ascension St. Mary’s, CMU Health, Covenant HealthCare, Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, HealthSource Saginaw, MiHIA, Saginaw Community Foundation, Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority, Saginaw County Health Department, Saginaw Intermediate School District, and United Way of Saginaw County.

The announcement of “Be Well, Saginaw” said residents can expect to see several new health activities and resources to address the target issues, including a one-stop referral for pregnant women and nursing moms, a mental health & substance use self-care campaign, and a eat better/get moving initiative with team challenges culminating in the first Be Well Saginaw 5K Run/Walk on October 1.

“We are encouraging everyone to use ‘Be Well, Saginaw’ information to start conversations in your organizations, businesses, churches, and neighborhoods, and to reach out to find ways to work together to improve the health of Saginaw County,” Harrington says.