Matt Gorman

Editor’s Note: This is a new feature provided by Polk Medical Center as is meant for informational purposes only.

For many of us, a new year brings an opportunity for reflection and a resolve to take a more positive approach to life.

Whether it’s a desire to lose those extra pounds, to take steps that will help lower our cholesterol or to finally put down those cigarettes for good, many of us begin the new year with the best of intentions, only to see that resolve slip away as the calendar flips forward.

This year can be different. 2018 can be the year that Polk County reverses that trend and establishes a new one, becoming a example for the communities around us.

Polk County’s health issues are no different than those of our neighbors, but the extent of the need is greater. When compared to neighboring counties, which include Floyd, Chattooga, Bartow, Gordon and Cherokee, Alabama, Polk has the highest rate of lung and oral cancer, the highest rate of diabetes in the Medicare population and the highest rate of deaths from heart disease.

While those stats seem daunting, they are not irreversible, but change requires resolve.

The Live Well Polk initiative, led by Polk Medical Center, was developed with that resolution in mind.

Through the establishment of community partnerships, the creation of educational programs and the seeking of opportunities for community engagement, Live Well Polk programs are designed to help people who live or work in Polk County get active, eat better, break bad habits and build good ones.

Through established partnerships with organizations like Polk County Schools and emerging ones with groups like the Rockmart Farmers Market, progress is already being made.

Two community events addressing the serious topics of suicide awareness and opioid addiction drew large audiences. Students are safer in schools because of access to EpiPens and AEDs, at no cost to the school system.

Plans are in the works to provide greater access to healthy food options for students in the school system and the community at large.

All of these strengthen the effort to make Polk County a healthier community in 2018.

In coming weeks, this space will offer ideas that help make living healthier more manageable — ideas about how to incorporate nutritional foods into your diet, how to prepare for visits to the doctor, what to do with expired medications and how to establish reasonable exercise and fitness programs. Live Well Polk is about more than helping you get better when you feel bad. It is about helping you live better and not feeling bad to begin with.

In short, it is a resolution to build a healthier community.