Local health professionals and stakeholders are working on a road map to health for the people of Stutsman and Logan counties, identifying public health goals, objectives and priorities.
“Hopefully, as a community we can meet the … health needs of this community and focus our resources on how to improve health,” said Robin Iszler, unit administrator with Central Valley Health District.
Designed to use existing and new data to assess local health needs and possible improvement methods, the collaborative project is partially funded with a $35,000 grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
The group is one of 12 nationwide that will serve as a model for other health departments in the U.S. There were 120 applicants for the grants.
Grant money will be used to develop a community health assessment and a community health improvement plan, two of three prerequisites that every health department must complete to be accredited. CHAs and CHIPs are also required for not-for-profit hospitals as part of health care reform legislation.
Developing a CHA and a CHIP for the area is expected to help meet rising health care demands, help leverage limited resources and increase efficiency and quality of health care services.
The district and two hospitals — Jamestown Regional Medical Center and Wishek Community Hospital & Clinics — are leading the project, which has become a massive collaborative effort.
Their partners are the Healthy Lifestyle Coalition, Jamestown College’s nursing department, South Central Human Service Center, Stutsman County Social Services and Central Valley Health District Board of Health, which includes representatives from the Stutsman and Logan county commissions.
In addition, other local government bodies, such as the city of Jamestown, are participating in future portions of the project.
“It’s a very collaborative arrangement,” Tami Dillman, CVHD finance manager.
The group spearheaded by Central Valley applied for the grant in May or June, and learned it had been selected in July. The group attended its first training session that month.
Much of the data in the CHA process has already been collected through previous local, state and federal public health organizations.
The data for Stutsman County will be reviewed and examined at a meeting from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 9 at Gladstone Inn & Suites. The public is invited to attend and anyone interested should RSVP to CentralValley@CentralValleyHealth.org.
Data for Logan County will be examined at a separate meeting on a different date.
After that, in February and March, a community survey will be conducted, which, along with the data, will be used to set priorities for local public health.
“What the survey will be looking at are what are the concerns as seen through the eyes of the residents of the county,” said Mark Winkelman, owner of Winkelman Consulting, Fargo, which is handling the survey. “What do we start working on first because numbers (from the data) and concerns of the community (from the survey) align?”
Once the survey is complete, a second meeting will be scheduled for May.
“At the May meeting, we’re going to share the results of what the community cares about — the community survey — and from there we’re going to set some goals, objectives and priorities,” Dillman said.
Then the group will decide what measurements and data can be used to determine how successful improvements are and assess any changes, and set clear targets for those measurements.
A similar project in San Francisco yielded 10 key priorities, as measured by 30 indicators. For example, the priority “Prevent and Detect Cancer” uses two key indicators — rates of colon cancer screening and mammogram histories. Both goals for those rates have been met.
CHAs and CHIPs are not meant to produce a document that gets shoved onto a shelf and forgotten, Iszler emphasized.
“It’s the end of the planning and the beginning of the action,” Winkelman said.
Having clear priorities for public health and target goals for its improvement may make it easier for local organizations writing grants or seeking help with health-related projects, Iszler explained. Priorities and goals can also help local government entities set public health policy based on what the community needs and wants.
In other words, community participation will dictate the outcome of the CHA/CHIP process.
“We’re asking people to turn out on the ninth, and we’re asking people to give their feedback when they get the call on the opinion survey,” Dillman said.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org