La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium (LMHSC): Facilitating collaboration for better health.
La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium (LMHSC) La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium (LMHSC) Healthiest County, La Crosse County La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium (LMHSC) Health and Science Center

Healthy County La Crosse

2010-2011 Accomplishments and Observations


Goal: Reduce tobacco use by adults and youth Adults: from 18.1% to 12% Youth from 20.5% to 16% by 2015.

Status: Youth - 2010 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data for La Crosse County indicates: 13.5% report smoking in the past 30 days. 10.5% report smoking daily, 5.3% report smokeless tobacco use. 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data reports a 19% tobacco rate in WI adults, 62% of whom made at least one quit attempt within the past year. La Crosse County data not available at this time.

Initiatives that support this goal:

1. Monitor the impact of the tobacco tax and support an increase (to the CDC recommended level for effectiveness) of funding for the comprehensive tobacco programming.

  • In 2010, there were local organized efforts to support no decrease in taxes or other forms of tobacco. WI Governor did not change the tax structure. 
  • In 2011, there were local organized efforts to support a continuation of a state-wide smoke-free worksite policy implemented in July of 2010. WI Governor did not repeal the policy. 

2. Limit or ban tobacco use, sponsorships and advertisements at local festivals, sporting events, and on billboards.

  • 2010:  22 community festivals assessed for tobacco sales, sponsorship & designated smoking areas.
    • 3 were totally smoke-free
    • 10 festivals were noted that smoking was allowed EVERYWHERE. 
    • 9 did NOT allow smoking in the beer tent, but smoking could occur outside the beer tent area. 
  • 2011: 22 community festivals assessed for tobacco use and signage. 
    • 4 were totally smoke-free 
    • 14 allowed smoking EVERYWHERE 
    • 4 did not allow smoking in the beer tent, but smoking could occur outside the beer tent area. 

3. Support the implementation of the smoke-free worksite policy (at a local level). Monitor its impact on outdoor smoking areas at bars and restaurants.

  • 2011: Noncompliance reports through 12/31 were at 47. La Crosse County has had 6 noncompliance reports. All have been resolved with business and law enforcement involvement. 
4. Decrease access to youth by conducting routine compliance checks. Maintain less than a 5% sale rate in La Crosse County.
  • 2011: La Crosse County fail rate was 7%. Surrounding counties have seen increasing rates as fewer compliance checks are conducted.
5. Monitor, support and coordinate cessation efforts for disparate populations (e.g., youth, pregnant women, those with mental health or co-addiction). If gaps exist, develop a plan to address these gaps.
  • 2010: Gundersen Lutheran offered a smoking cessation contest that attracted blue-collar workers. 91 participated. 13.2% of participants quit. 
  • Both healthcare organizations are covering cessation benefits with their insurance products. Minimal participation in programs. Unknown impact on smoking rates in disparate populations. 
  • Participation in First Breath program for La Crosse County pregnant women who smoke:  
    • 2009: 36% (79/220 [est.]) pregnant smokers 
    • 2010: 34% (75/220) pregnant smokers 
    • 2011: 22% (48/220) pregnant smokers 

Other initiatives in the plan:

  • Find ways to keep compliance checks sustainable, possibly through an increase in the tobacco license fee. Monitor the impact of the smoke-free worksite policy on the number of tobacco licenses. 
  • Examine and align tobacco policies and practices at college campuses - campus wide. 
  • Monitor and respond locally to tobacco industry changes in products targeted to youth. Mount awareness campaigns to counter these product promotions.


Goal: Increase the proportion of adults and children who are at a healthy weight Adults: from 38.6% to 60% Youth from 25% to 50% by 2015.


  • Youth - 2010 YRBS data for La Crosse County indicates: 
    • 18.7% report 5+ fruits & vegetables in the past 7 days
    • 8.8% are obese (95th percentile based on self-reported height and weight). 
  • Adult – no data available. 

Initiatives that support this goal:

1. Encourage nonchain/nonfranchise restaurants to join the 500 Club (or other similar programs) as a way to help patrons identify healthy options in their restaurants

2. Increase adoption of Wellness Warriors to encourage selection of healthy items from vending throughout the region. (Healthier choices identified with a green pusher & some healthier items discounted while some unhealthy items increased in price.)

  • Baseline Sept 2010 - 63 members (all vending within that worksite or community location) 
  • Jan 2011 - 70 members (10% increase) 
  • Addition of 13 members with “healthy zones” (vending machines organized and marked with a zone of health choices.) 

3. Promote increased purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables at local grocery stores. (Increase Fruit & Vegetable sales by demonstrations/taste testing at local grocery stores)

  • Implemented Foot Steps to Health at all grocery stores in La Crosse County. 
  • Sept 2010-July 2011, produce sale increased by 10% at the four Festival Foods La Crosse County stores 

4. Work with school nutrition programs to increase fruit/vegetable offerings on school menus

  • 5 of 5 public school districts in La Crosse County implementing Farm2School program. 
    • Food demonstration by celebrity chefs and sampling of over 20,000 samples of locally grown foods in 2011. 
    • Between Sept-Dec 2011 local produce valued at $21,378 served in five school districts 

5. Implement a Worksite Wellness Award that recognizes local employers who are encouraging a healthier Nutritional Policies and Practices among their employees.

  • 2010: 
    • 16 worksites scored GOLD
    • 4-SILVER
    • 3-BRONZE 
  • 2011: 
    • 22 worksites scored GOLD, (37.5% increase in those scoring gold for nutrition) 
    • 4-SILVER
    • 1-BRONZE

6. Conduct a walkability/bikeability study (including destinations, sidewalk connectedness)

  • County plan completed in March of 2010. La Crosse City plan to be completed in 2012. 

7. Publicly support strategies to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety throughout the greater La Crosse area

  • 2011:
    • Complete Streets Ordinance passed City of La Crosse, Villages of Holmen and West Salem, and La Crosse County. 
    • 17.5 miles of officially designated bike lanes have been added (striped signed and stenciled) in the City of La Crosse (seven-fold increase). 
    • Actively supported bicycle/pedestrian designs on I-90 Bridge project, Oak Street bridge project, Highway 16 and Highway 35 projects in 2010 and 2011. 
    • I-90 Bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin will be rebuilt with bicycle accommodations. 

8. Support active commuting initiatives to increase the number of people that bike or walk to work.

  • 2011:
    • 40 new bike racks have been installed in city of La Crosse.
    • City of La Crosse named a League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community Silver Award. 
    • 15 of the largest worksites participating in LCCHD's active commute program. 
    • 8 worksites designated Bronze (or honorable mention) Bicycle Friendly Businesses by the League of American Bicyclists.  

9. Adopt a safe-routes to school program at all 15 walkable schools within the county.

  • 2011:
    • 13 participating schools in the county reported over 20,000 new walking/biking events (includes walking to school but not with the walking school buses), walking at school, and participating in activity clubs) 
    • 5000 walking school bus trips
    • Over 4400 students received bicycle helmet & safety education 

10. Implement a Worksite Wellness Award that recognizes local employers who are encouraging a healthier, physically active lifestyle among their employees through policies, projects and environmental changes.

  • 2010: 
    • 13 worksites scored GOLD
    • 5-SILVER
    • 5-BRONZE
  • 2011:
    • 13 worksites scored GOLD (No change in scoring gold for physical activity) 
    • 7-SILVER
    • 7-BRONZE

Other initiatives in the plan

  • Work with local farmers markets to allow “food stamps” (WIC), & electronic payment 
  • Spearhead a vegetable donation program to connect the local food pantries with local growers. 
  • Work with community groups to establish organizational policies that limit the use of sale of non-nutritious foods for fundraising. 
  • Develop and collaborate with youth serving agencies to provide healthy snacks on non-school days and at after-school care. 
  • Expand or develop a bike-sharing program between major employers in La Crosse.

Risky Alcohol Use

Goal: Create an environment that promotes safe choices. Reduce the rate of injury/mortality (intentional and unintentional) by 10%, and the rate of binge alcohol consumption by 10% by 2015.


  • Youth - 2010 YRBS data for La Crosse County high school students indicates:
    • 31.5% of students reported drinking alcohol during the last 30 days. This is less than the 2009 state rate of 41.3%.
    • 19.9% of students reported having had 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row (binge drinking) during the past 30 days before the survey. This is less than the 2009 state rate of 25.2%.
    • 7.1% reported driving after drinking too much in the past 30 days. 
  • College – National College Health data from the three colleges in La Crosse (2008/2009) indicate:
    • 68.6% had alcohol in the past 30 days (benchmark: 68.8%)
    • 37.9% reported binge drinking in the past 14 days (benchmark: 36.7%)
    • 24.5% driving after drinking too much past 30 days (benchmark: 20.1%
  • Adult – No local binge drinking data available for La Crosse County. 
    • 2010 state binge drinking rate 25.6% (HIGHEST IN THE NATION).
  • Other alcohol related injury information has been collated into the Burden of Alcohol-related injury in La Crosse County, 2008 (A 2012 update is in progress) and at

Initiatives that support this goal:

1. Regularly conduct compliance checks in all communities in La Crosse County for underage compliance.

  • July 2009: Local law enforcement held a statewide conference on compliance checks, training 59 officers from 36 communities in Wisconsin. 
  • Over 150 compliance checks conducted yearly in each community. Compliance averages 90%.

2. Conduct responsible beverage server training to bartenders and festival beverage servers in La Crosse County.

  • 100-150 bartenders and servers have been trained each year in TIPS safe-alcohol beverage server training.

3. Conduct evidence based programming for high risk families

  • Conducted several 7-week sessions of Strengthening Families Training for 36 families in La Crosse County.

4. Conduct a media campaign to reduce underage parties.

  • Conducted successful Parents Who Host Lose the Most campaigns in 2009-2011. 
  • Materials distributed to 5000+ parents/families each year. 
  • Program is implemented in all high schools in the county. 
  • Conducted additional compliance checks and party patrols during the campaign.

5. Work with community festivals to adopt best practices to reduce underage and binge drinking alcohol use.

  • Festivals assessed on 12 evidence-based best practices and scored. 22 festivals assessed in 2010 and 22 in 2011. The same 19 festivals assessed both years. 
  • Average score: 
    • 2010: 68.4 
    • 2011: 74.3 (p=0.008) 
  • Number of strategies fully met (of 12 assessed): 
    • 2010: 4.2 
    • 2011: 5.2 
  • Methodology shared with other Wisconsin communities: see
  • Presentation at state and national conferences in 2012 and submission of peer-reviewed journal summarizing methodology and results in 2012.

6. Support an increase alcohol tax to raise treatment/education funds

  • Tax bill in WI State Assembly in 2010.
  • Actively supported by local community members.
  • Tax not passed.

7. Work with local taverns to adopt evidence-based strategies for safe-alcohol serving

  • Partners for a Safer La Crosse County implementation begun in March 2012.
  • Bar assessments to be conducted by college students.

8. Support alternative activities for youth through mini-grants to K-12 schools and colleges

  • Between 2000-3000 students participated in alternative activities funded by the project each year.
  • Additionally, 500 people participated in the first alcohol-free Family Zone at La Crosse’s Oktoberfest Maple Leaf parade (one of the largest Oktoberfest parades in the nation)

9. Implement a Worksite Wellness Award that recognizes local employers who are encouraging healthy substance use among their employees through policies, projects, and environmental changes.

  • 2011: (NEW in 2011)
    • 13 worksites scored GOLD
    • 8-SILVER
    • 6-BRONZE

Other initiatives in the plan

  • Propose Social Host ordinance for communities in La Crosse County
  • Propose and adopt an alcohol license review board for communities in La Crosse County
  • Research alcohol outlet density and its impact on alcohol-related arrests in the City of La Crosse.

Mental Health Improvement

Goal: To reduce the county rate of suicide from 13.8/100,000 to 8.9/100,000 by 2015. (age-adjusted)


  • Youth - YRBS data for La Crosse County high school students in 2010 indicates:
    • 22.9% of students reported feeling sad or hopeless (more than the state average)
    • 13.8% of students reported seriously considered suicide (same as state average)
    • 10.9% of students reported having made a plan (same as state average)
    • 8.0% of students reported attempting suicide in the past 12 months (more than the state average)
    • 23% of female students reported purposely hurting themselves (more than the state average)
  • College – National College Health data from the three colleges in La Crosse (2008/2009) indicate:
    • 30% of students reported depressed and not able to function (benchmark: 30.7%)
    • 5.7% considered attempting suicide (benchmark: 6%)
    • 1.1% attempted suicide (benchmark 1.1%)
    • 24.0% ever diagnoses with depression (benchmark 17.8%)
  • Adult – No county data on depression diagnosis or symptoms.
  • Suicide rate for years 2007-2009 for La Crosse County residents: 12.1/100,000.
  • Other mental illness information has been collated into The Burden of Mental Illness, 2011: also at

Initiatives that support this goal:

1. Complete a Burden of Mental Illness Report so that data and gaps in services may be identified and help lead the strategic plan

  • Burden report completed in December of 2011.
  • Mental Health Coalition – Healthy County 2015 is spearheading a gap analysis.

2. Reduce the stigma around mental health by providing training to targeted community groups, agencies, etc.

  • Conducted stigma reducing education programs to over 750 community members from 2005-2007.
  • Saw a statistical improvement in stigma scores on a pre-post survey.

3. Promote awareness that suicide is a public health problem that is preventable

  • Suicide Prevention Initiative Awareness event held each year. 200+ people attend yearly.
  • Mental Health in the Jail System conference held in Fall of 2011. 200+ participated.

4. Develop a crisis center for the provision of emergency mental health and substance abuse services.

  • CARE (Crisis Assessment Recovery Empowerment) Center. Mental health crisis center for La Crosse County opened in May 2010.
    • Bed Capacity 8
    • 271 admissions from May-December 2010.

5. Increase the number of mental health professionals at (various levels of care) to improve access to mental health services

  • Application for a mental health professional shortage area for La Crosse County was submitted and denied.
  • Consider other partnerships with a local FQHC to expand capacity for mental health
  • Expansion of a mental health hospital by Gundersen Lutheran in 2012 will increase capacity for hospital and outpatient visits.

2011 Health Summit Summary:

Watch a short presentation (below) on our accomplishments so far! Just click the forward arrow to begin and continue clicking it to advance through the presentation.  To see the presentation in full screen, click on "More" and select "Full Screen."   Press ESC to return to this page. 

 2010 Accomplishments

  • 7 C's (7 county health initiative--formerly LAHI)

    • Collaborating with public health agencies in each county
    • Implementing smoke free workplace law
    • Conducting youth compliance checks for sale of tobacco products (Noncompliance rates are currently 5-20%; goal is <5%)
    • FACT (Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco) project: working in schools and at the Boys & Girls Club
    • Partnering with Monroe County Drug-Free Community grant
    • Turning focus to non-smoking nicotine products (fruit/mint/chocolate flavored--appealing to youth)

  • Driftless Region Bicycle Coalition
    • Bike to Worship effort
    • Bike to work week--held each May
    • Community events
    • Successfully achieved 501(c)(3) status
    • Active in bicycling advocacy efforts--Complete Streets, etc.

  • Bike Pedestrian Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
    • Complete Streets at MPO level
    • Modifying funding prioritization process to encourage communities to include bike, ped, and transit accommodations
    • $100,000 in funds brought into area for bike-ped-transit planning projects (e.g., bike racks at bus stops)
    • Looking at multimodal ways to get to train stations
    • Adopted a bike route map to go in River Valley Transit Center

  • Hunger Task Force (HTF)
    • Worked with farmers markets in 2010 to get healthier foods donated
    • Seeds of Hope campaign: challenged donors to plant an extra row in their gardens for HTF
    • Share the Bounty program: Two farmers markets donated 30,000 pounds of produce; 57 area food programs benefited
    • Cooking, food preparation demonstrations at Kane St. Community Garden
    • Working with Hmong community to plant traditional foods
    • Guides created for buying, keeping, and storing vegetables and fruit
    • Added a Q&A section to their website
    • Hosted Interns from all three higher-education campuses; would like longer-term interns
    • Food Recovery program: recovered post-expiration date but still good food for after school programs
    • Provided resources for those conducting food drives
    • Salvation Army partnered with UW-Extension for food preparation of donated food at the South Side Neighborhood Center

  • Coulee Region Childhood Obesity Coalition
    • Celebrated 10 year anniversary in 2010
    • Moved focus from awareness to addressing problems
    • Was the impetus behind Footsteps to Health program in area grocery stores
    • Walk Around the World challenge: YMCA after-school sites and Head Start gave kids a "travel" log to record the distance they walked every day so they could earn "miles" toward incentives. The program will open up to schools (public and private) and families in the future
    • Completed a Turn Off the TV challenge in April, both for schools and families
    • Implemented a Walk to School challenge

  • Changing the Culture of Risky Drinking Behavior Coalition
    • Conducted alcohol safety assessments for area festivals
    • Prepared recommendations for festival organizers related to providing healthy food options and safe alcohol practices
    • Completed Strategic Plan for reducing alcohol-related injuries among 12-20 year olds in La Crosse County 
    • Received three-year Impact Award from Medical College of Wisconsin's Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program to reduce underage access to and use of alcohol in La Crosse County
    • Received planning and implementation grant from the Wisconsin Department of Human Services to reduce binge drinking among 18-25 year-olds in La Crosse County; Renewed for second year of implementation
    • Presented policy recommendations to college/university leaders

  • Healthy Living Collaboration:
    • Provided leadership for the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant from the Centers for Disease Control
    • Created a Strategic Plan for La Crosse County to make choices in healthy eating, physical activity, and tobacco use easier
    • Granted funds to the Boys & Girls Club for the youth-led Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco (FACT) group at the Mathy Center and Erickson Center
    • Supported Wise Guys/Smart Girls tobacco-free program
    • Granted funds to YMCA and Boys & Girls Club for fruits and vegetables to be served in after school programs
    • Boys and Girls Club changed its guiding tenets to include an emphasis on health, which will affect all future decision-making

  • Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant: a $2.2 million federal grant (CDC) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to improve nutrition and physical activity to prevent obesity in La Crosse County
    • Partnered with Gundersen Lutheran to expand its 500 Club into 21 Kwik Trip stores in La Crosse County
    • Partnering with Stansfield Vending to expand their Wellness Warriors program, which prices healthier items more competitively, and to set "healthy zones" in the vending display.  This model is being piloted at the County building in La Crosse.
    • Implemented Footsteps to Health, a grocery store-based program to increase fruit and vegetable purchases in three Festival Foods stores and three Quillin's and Hanson's stores.  Features "fruit/vegetable of the month" and other informational materials about eating healthy
    • Bike-Ped project installed bike racks, created new bike lanes, provided active commuting toolkits to employers, and worked to get a Complete Streets policy in La Crosse County
    • Safe Routes to School project is getting kids to move more and eat healthier in 13 schools.  Established a liaison for the schools, is implementing a "walking school bus" every day, and is developing special "walk/bike days" for middle school students
    • Farm to School project is in place in four school districts in La Crosse County.  Arranging for lightly processed food to appear on lunch menus, including a "harvest of the month" and food tastings for students to help develop menus
    • Formed after school partnerships to get kids more active
    • Complete Streets policy work would allow for safer, more walkable, bikable, disability-friendly streets in La Crosse County. Project is attempting to localize the current state policy. West Salem is completing their policy. Work is occuring in the City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, and in the City of Onalaska.  Metropolitan Planning Organization is also working on a new policy
    • Onalaska received federal funding for streetscaping and a local market
    • City of La Crosse approved a new bike-ped bridge with a $4 million grant

  • Pioneering Healthier Communities:
    • 20 new bike racks have been installed in La Crescent
    • "Apples for Everyone" project in partnership with Stansfield Vending is providing healthy foods
    • School board administration challenge Onalaska and Holmen school district employees to a 12-week "get active and lose weight" campaign
    • Hosted a Harvest Dinner based on local and seasonal food
    • Installed 40 new bike racks in La Crosse in partnership with the City of La Crosse and Mid-City Steel
    • Launched a new healthy worksite online toolkit
  • Mental Health Coalition:
    • Awarded 2010/2011 Shooting Star Award
    • Held two strategic planning sessions with mental health partner organizations
  • La Crosse County Human Services:
    • CARE Center opened in La Crosse
  • La Crosse Area Suicide Prevention Coalition:
    • Hosted 2010 Suicide Prevention Summit
  • Violence Prevention subcommittee of the Family Policy Board formed
  • Infectious Disease partners
    • Agreed to consolidate past committees into a single, new group dedicated to preventing communicable diseases

La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium | 1300 Badger St., Office 3065, La Crosse, WI 54601, U.S.A. | Phone: (608) 785-5150 | Fax: (608) 785-5154

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