Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said the County Community Health Needs Assessment survey will enable health care providers to better provide services that address the right issues.
“This is similar to the survey we did three years ago,” Warner said. “And what we want to do is reach out to the community directly and identify the biggest health issues that we in this area are facing.”
The survey is totally anonymous, he said, and after completing it respondents have the opportunity to win prizes as a way of saying “thank you” for taking the survey by simply clicking a link when they’re finished.
“At that point, they will have to list their name, address and phone number so we can notify them if they win something,” Warner said.
The goal of the 2019 Community Health Survey is to see the responses of at least 600 individuals in Highland County before Aug. 15 so that any improvements and recommendations in regional health care can be based on sound data and not best-guess estimates.
Warner said the problem that occurs when groups such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or the Centers for Disease Control conduct health canvasses, they may only survey 12 people in a three-county region, and then base all of their findings on that tiny sampling of responses.
Another problem has to do with surveys done solely by zip code, specifically the 45133 zip code, which Warner said covers about 75 percent of Highland County, noting that the health care needs found in the Rocky Fork Lake region may be altogether different from what would be found in the Sinking Spring area.
“It’s really hard for us to have any clear and actionable data as to what our true health issues are unless we go out ourselves and directly collect data from our community,” he said. “We want to get real numbers from real people that live here so we can figure out what is making us unhealthy.”
Health priorities of the most recent survey, which was formally released in August 2017 and then was revised the following September, fell into six categories with set goals, and specific recommendations for reaching those goals. The goals were:
• Reducing illegal substance abuse and overdoses.
• Promoting mental health awareness by increasing mental health services.
• Reducing obesity rates through nutrition education and an increase in physical activity.
• Preventing chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
• Reducing the infant mortality rate in Highland County.
• Reducing tobacco usage in both adults and children
While individuals can take part in the health survey using traditional pencil and paper, Warner said most easy way and preferred method is visiting www.highlandcountyhealth.org, or by going to the Highland County Health Department Facebook page.
Hard copies of what is officially called the 2019 Highland County Health Collaborative Community Assessment are available at the health department and the Highland County Community Action Organization, both of which have offices in the North High Business Center at 1487 N, High St. in Hillsboro, the Highland County Senior Citizens Center on Muntz Street in Hillsboro, the Highland County YMCA at Liberty Park and The Times-Gazette at 108 Gov. Trimble Place.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.