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Northeast Neb. residents face obesity and mental health, challenges 

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WAYNE — Recent research shows obesity is a problem in Northeast Nebraska. 

The Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD) which serves Cedar, Dixon, Thurston and Wayne counties, together with Pender Community Hospital and Providence Medical Center have been working together since 2018 on data collection that will help them better understand the health needs of Northeast Nebraska.  

The data collected shows that obesity is a major problem for the health district with higher prevalence for adults (34.4%) in the district than in Nebraska (32.8%), and even higher prevalence for children in Northeast Nebraska (26%) than in the nation (18.5%). 

Data also shows that people of the NNPHD Health District generally fair better than Nebraska to access health care when needed; however, people are not accessing preventive services as recommended.  

Not as many people in the area have gotten health screenings for cancer (breast, cervical, colon) cardiac health (cholesterol, blood pressure screening) and other preventive services such as vaccinations than people in Nebraska as a whole.  

Mental health is another area of concern and was identified as the #2 health issue needing improvement for the district as identified by 36.82% of respondents on the recent Community Health Survey conducted as part of the data gathering.  

The 2019 Community Health Assessment comprehensive data can be viewed at  A paper copy of the data can be obtained by contacting the health department.  

The public is invited to comment on the data prior to the May 21 planning meeting.  

Planning is the next step in the process now that the data has been collected.  

The public is invited to participate in the planning meeting where we will work together to review the data, identify priorities and develop a Community Health Improvement Plan for the area which can be used by any organization to help inform and support their work.  

This planning meeting will be held on May 21 from 2-4 p.m. via Adobe Connect.  You can participate in this meeting through this website address: 

You can also attend in person at the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department, 215 N Pearl St, Wayne.  

Julie Rother, NNPHD Health Director offers an open invitation, “Anyone interested in the health of Northeast Nebraska is encouraged to join us on May 21 as we discuss the data results and plan how we can best work together for a healthier future.”   

This health improvement work is formally known as the Northeast Nebraska Rural Health Network Development program and is being supported by a $100,000 grant from the Federal Health Services and Resource Administration.  

Rebecca Rayman, owner of RJR Consulting of Columbus is the consultant for the work. Additional partners who have been active in the planning work include Pender Medical Clinic, Wayne Family Medicine and the Winnebago Tribal Health Department.  

More than 40 community partners have shared their input at community meetings already held in November and March.  For more information contact Julie at Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department, 402-375-2200, 800-375-2260 or