BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Lee County Health Department is looking for more surveys as part of a three-year reboot on a community health needs assessment and improvement plan.
The LCHD in conjunction with Fort Madison Community Hospital and UnityPoint Health in Keokuk, have posted a survey online and through social media to gauge county resident’s thoughts on where focus should be placed with regards to health care needs.
The survey can be found on the Internet at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/26FJGJY.
Michele Ross, the Community Health Program director at LCHD said the survey is intended for a wide range of county residents including high school students.
“We take care of everybody in the county, so everyone’s opinion is welcome in this.”
She said the assessment used to be done every five years by the health department but the hospitals are required to do it every three years so LCHD aligned with them to get a more comprehensive look at the needs.
“It just makes sense when you look at the gobs and gobs of data that we have to go through to do this all together,” Ross said. “It’s very important because we want to know what people throughout the county think are the health care needs of the county.”
Some of the programs that have been born out of the assessment include the Live Health Lee County Initiative and another task force that looked at transportation needs in the county.
The survey will remain open until Aug. 31 and Ross said although 850 surveys have already been completed, the county had set a target of 1,000 surveys. The link became live earlier this summer and LCHD staff has been working at senior health fairs and other clinics and interactions to direct people to the survey. She said the last assessment drew about 750 responses.
Both hospitals also use the data to program their facilities.
Ross in previous assessments residents have identified such issues as mental health, obesity, chronic health problems, and promoting healthy behaviors as important issues in the county.
“It’s the residents way of giving their input of needs. We will be looking at what the people feel are our biggest needs and what kind of impact we can make with the priorities coming out strongest,” she said. “Basically we just want community input. We hope to have targeted focus groups and when we go to senior health clinics we do some things in person and then we tell them about the survey monkey.”
Once the data has been received and poured through, Ross said a large meeting will be held to prioritize the responses and make a plan of action.
“Once we determine what our needs are, we’ll have a large meeting and prioritize,” she said. “We’ll probably narrow it down to three focus areas. When you do five or six goals, that focus tends to get too wide.”
The group will be asked to share their ideas for improvement strategies and activities they are willing to work on for improving the priority health needs. Our first community partnership meeting will be held on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 1:00 pm at the Montrose Riverfront Building (203 North 1st Street) in Montrose, Iowa. Additional planning meetings may be scheduled if needed. Those interested in participating in the community meetings should contact Michele Ross by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call LCHD at 800-458-6672.
The survey is being largely distributed to the public through organizational websites, social media, on-line survey monkey, and by paper format available at the LCHD offices at #3 John Bennett Drive in Fort Madison.
The goal will be to have the Health Improvement Plan completed and approved by the hospitals and the Lee County Board of Health by January 2019.