Members of community organizations and agencies will come together for a meeting Jan. 9 to study the results of the Summit County Health Assessment Survey. The survey, completed in September, consists of a demographic overview of Summit County and detailed findings about the county's strengths, weaknesses and needs in the areas of health and health services.The last community health assessment survey was conducted in 2007. The surveys include a list of health issues that carry high importance and need to be addressed. The key priorities in the 2008 strategic plan were expanding mental health treatment, expanding nutrition and healthy lifestyles, as well as addressing the awareness, availability and affordability of health care services.The key priorities have differed very little between the 2007 and 2012 surveys. The four most important areas for Summit County this year are: nutrition and physical activity, injury prevention, access to health care and behavioral health and substance abuse. The 2012 survey was conducted by Corona Insights, which handled the previous study. Research was done by means of telephone surveys and focus groups in both English and Spanish, an online survey and key informant surveys. The key informants surveyed included county physicians, health service providers and members of community nonprofits. "(Corona Insights) did the logistic work around the phone surveys, then they took random names from the phone survey to populate the focus groups," said Deb Crook, a public health nurse. "Then the key informant surveys were taken from the list that we used in '07 and expanded."It took six months to compile the results, which will be submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Throughout 2013, counties all over the state will submit their health assessment surveys. The state will then compile all the information to form the Public Health Improvement Plan.While aspects of the state's improvement plan and the county's strategic plan may overlap, the county plan focuses specifically on issues important to Summit. The Jan. 9 meeting will be the first step at looking closely at the data and deciding a course of action. "The plan right now is to ... gather some information from community members, organizations that work with the public around health, and brainstorm to do a strategic plan," said Crook.The meeting will include an overview of findings from the assessment, comparison to the 2007 assessment and a presentation of the key priorities selected by the Health Assessment Steering Committee. After the presentation, the attendees will break up into individuals groups, each with its own key priority focus. After the meeting, each group will spend time brainstorming on solutions and improvements and then all will reconvene at a later date to bring together their information and create the county's strategic plan for the next five years.Funding for the survey came from the state of Colorado, The Summit Foundation, the county government, St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and the Summit Community Care Clinic. The state mandates that communities must conduct these health assessment surveys every five years, but that's not the only reason for doing it. If one issue becomes particularly important statewide, grant money and other funding may become available through the state. Additionally, the survey gives a good idea of what needs in the community need to be met. "Really, it's the perfect opportunity to check in and see how we're doing in the community," Crook said.
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