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HMC community survey looks at health concerns

Special Photo
Henry Medical Center Community Educator Vicky Ayers

Special Photo Henry Medical Center Community Educator Vicky Ayers

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Henry Medical Center (HMC) has gathered information provided by area residents, regarding the well-being of the community, and how to improve it.

The hospital recently concluded an annual, comprehensive health assessment of the county. The assessment is designed to improve and maintain the health status of Henry County, according to HMC Public Relations Specialist Michelle Nunnally.

"The survey .... involved a collaborative effort by Henry Medical Center, Henry County Government, Henry County Health Department, Henry County Sheriff's Office, Henry County Board of Education and the Henry County Chamber of Commerce," she said. "The report contains information on personal health status, top community health concerns and use of health insurance and prevention services."

Hospital officials used three measures to collect their data, according to Vicky Ayers, RN/Community Educator at HMC. "We used a survey to ask citizens in the county questions about their health as well as their perception of the community's health," she said. "We asked focus groups questions related to perception of community health, and things that might improve the health of the community. Third, we collected data that was already available about Henry County's health.

"We developed a pretty extensive communication plan to disseminate the results to the community via media, Internet sources, social networking and collaboration with community leaders," Ayers continued. "Our community was able to look at the most common issues that stood out."

The surveys were sent in May 2010, by a Health Assessment Advisory Committee. Ayers was assisted, during the process, by local students and professors.

"We wanted to know what all of the community would find most helpful, to improve its health status," she said.

The five categories which were most prevalent in the survey responses, she said, were: chronic diseases, drug abuse and mental health issues; traffic accidents and congestion; access to health-care resources; and lack of knowledge about what resources are available locally.

The hospital is working to evaluate the survey's findings, and make adjustments as needed for the benefit of patients. To do that, Ayers said, cooperation from the community is crucial.

"As a hospital, Henry Medical Center will be integrating these results into our strategic plan, so that we can continue to promote health for our community," said Ayers. "But, on a much grander scale, the ideal approach would be the formulation of a community collaborative to address these issues and, ultimately, improve the health of our community.

The assessment report is available for viewing online, at www.henrymedical.com/news/community_benefit. For more information, call (678) 604-1040, or e-mail Vicky Ayers at vayers@hmc-ga.org.