Health department surveys available to public

By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — A local health agency wants your input. The Bladen Countgy Health and Human Services Agency is in the midst of conducting a county-wide survey in order to assess the needs and available health services in the county.

The Health Department is required by the state to assess its public health every three years and to formulate an action plan based on the information.

Marianne Valentiner, health educator with the Health and Human Services Agency, said this year’s short timeline make the need for participation imminently important.

“We’re trying to get the survey out to citizens of Bladen County on a short timeline,” she said. “It’s due the first Monday in March, and we typically have until May to complete the assessment.”

The process is a lengthy one. The Health Department first must compile from various sources data that reflect the health of the county. Included in the information are topics such as actual morbidity rates, cancer rates, substance abuse rates and heart problems, as well as demographic information.

After compiling data, the agency forms a team made up of representatives from numerous health-related organizations such as Healthy Bladen, the Cooperative Extension, the Department of Social Services, and Bladen Community College. This team surveys the county in order to ascertain the community’s feelings about the availability and need of services. Questions on the survey range from “What do you feel is the biggest health concern in Bladen County?” to “What would you like to see done to improve the health of local citizens?” and “Did you get a flu shot this year?”

After the survey is complete, the agency compares the viewpoints of the citizenry with the statistical information gathered in the first phase. Survey results are also compared to N.C. statewide statistics and to counties of similar size in order to determine which health issues are of particular concern for the area. The Health Department then formulates an action plan to address local concerns.

The information gathered in the survey is not used solely by the Health Department, however. It is also important to other local agencies when, for example, applying for grants.

“The information is there and helpful to have if agencies want grants or if they want to gear their programs,” Valentiner said. “They will know the needs based on the Community Health Assessment.”

The Health Department has collaborated with the school system, the hospital, the court system, churches, and senior centers to disseminate the surveys. Valentiner said their goal is to collect 250 surveys, and they currently have about 200.

The survey can be found on the Bladen County Health and Human Services’ Facebook page, as well as on the Bladen County Health and Human Services website, where there is a link at the bottom for the 2016 Community Health Assessment. Those interested in completing a paper copy of the survey can call Valentiner at 910-872-6264. The survey is available in Spanish.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll

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