NORWICH – The Chenango County Health Department is putting its finger on the pulse of local health-care needs by reaching out to the community for feedback.
The department rolled out a community health survey earlier this month, giving residents a chance to weigh in on the status of local health care. The survey collects data on a range of issues that impact local health care, including food availability, cancer rates, housing, obesity rates, transportation, and mental health, among others. The survey analyzes more than a dozen different metrics in total.
The Chenango County Health Department conducts a community health survey every three years in accordance with state requirements. Findings give the department an idea of the highs and lows of local health care and insights about where to improve, explained Chenango County Public Health Director Isaiah Sutton.
“It helps us get an idea of what the community thinks about local healthcare services,” he said. “We’ll take that and see where we can make the most impact. We can’t solve every problem in three years, but we can make inroads in a couple areas.”
Once data is collected, the health department will go to its steering committee to identify local stakeholders who can best help in areas of need. The health department has worked closely with many agencies and organizations in previous years, such as United Health Services (UHS), Chenango Health Network, the Chenango United Way, and Catholic Charities of Chenango County.
Data gathered might also be used by community-based organizations as they vie for state and federal funding over the next few years.
The Chenango Health Department has already surpassed expectations for survey responses. Sutton said he set a goal of 300 responses when the survey period began. The department has received 700 responses to date; but it says the more responses, the better. As for the top concerns so far? Mental health and substance abuse, said Sutton.
“There’s a lot of people who care a lot about health-care services and who care about our community. Based on what we found so far in this process, mental health is high on everyone’s list,” he said. “We’re going to find ways that we can support that.”
The Chenango Health Department plans to keep the survey open through next week. It can be found on the department’s website, www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health, or by calling 334-0021 for a mailed paper copy; or search “Chenango County Health Department” on Facebook.