More on Community Health Survey

By Heidi Zemach for SCN
Residents fill out the Community Health Survey at the Post Office on SaturdaySeward area residents participated in an anonymous community-wide health survey Saturday, April 17 at a variety of public locations throughout town. (Photo of residents filling in surveys outside the Post Office Saturday afternoon.)

Those who missed the survey can still participate via the City of Seward’s website, beginning Tuesday, April 17, and running through the end of the month. As an incentive, prizes sponsored by the City and SeaView Community Services are being offered to all who take the survey, including $500 toward a heating bill; $300 or $100 toward a utility bill, and cameras.
Providence Health & Services, Alaska Region conducts rotating surveys of the Alaska communities in which its hospitals are located every three years. Last year they finished Valdez. This year they are surveying Seward and Anchorage, said PHS planner Nathan D. Johnson. The surveys, and comprehensive reports subsequently generated are used by Providence, and are available for the use of all community providers and residents to help them analyze the health of the community, and increase awareness of its unmet needs.
“One of the big things we’re really interested in is is the barriers to care. Have you needed health care, and were you able to receive it? And if not, why were you not able to?” Johnson said.
The final approximately 100-page report is not only made up of the survey data, but also from interviews with service providers and area employers, and secondary data such as the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (WRBS), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (conducted by the state), and socio-economic data from US Census Bureau, Johnson said.

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Although 95 percent of the survey questions statewide are the same, involving a core set of questions so they can be consistent, and used for comparison purposes, the remaining questions may be geared specifically to the questions or concerns of each participating community, Johnson said. About 51 people from the Seward area, including health-care, dental care, behavioral care, and native health service providers participated in helping Providence planners design those Seward survey questions. They were particularly interested in learning about access to dental care and behavioral health services this time, Johnson said.
A number of changes came about as a result of Seward’s last health assessment survey report, which found lack of access to primary care to be a big issue, Johnson said. Among them was the formation of Seward Community Health Coalition, a broad-based group of individuals and providers that has been active in coming up with plans for addressing some the communities’ health care needs identified in that survey. For its part, Providence Seward Medical&Care Center decided to address the unmet need of lack of access to primary care by recently instituting a sliding-fee scale for in-patient services. The report also provided impetus for the the Community Wellness pilot program, which last year provided some 70 uninsured and under-insured residents with some identified high-risks with a subsidized fitness program, nutrition workshops, personal nutrition/health counseling, basic health-data checks (such as blood screenings, BMI, etc) and primary-care visits. That program is continuing for a second year with approximately offering it to another 70 participants, but minus the primary-care component.

Seward can expect to receive a final, informative 100-page report, with lots of graphs and charts, and summaries of various areas. But the report won’t contain any specific recommendations for change, Johnson said. That will be left up to the community. After the tourist season ends, sometime in September or October of 2012, Providence planners will convene a meeting in Seward to discuss the report, and analyze it collectively, in what may begin a community dialogue about the next steps groups may wish to take, and where they can see improvements within their own sphere of influence, Johnson said.
To participate in the health survey, visit  www.cityofseward.us or click on the link below to go directly to the survey itself:

The survey will be available via the web through April 30, 2012.

5 Comments

  1. Carol Griswold says:

    I appreciate the efforts of our area’s health care providers to learn about our community’s needs. I completed the survey at the Post Office, but was surprised by a few of the questions.

    #19 Within the past year have you made a personal lifestyle change related to better health? For example, lost weight, changed diet, became more physically active, reduced stress, decreased alcohol or tobacco use.

    If you have achieved a good balance in your personal lifestyle and answer No, it implies that perhaps you are a sloth and uninterested in improving your health. This is misleading, and there was no option to explain why.

    I was unprepared with figures to answer 28 so I took a guess:
    28. How much of your total household take-home pay (income after taxes) goes to rent/housing costs? Housing costs are considered any type of payment having to do with housing, such as rent or mortgage payments, and utilities.

    And was totally unprepared for the very specific, no multiple choice question 29 so I didn’t answer it:
    29. In the last 12 months what percent of your take home pay went to health care costs? Health care costs are considered doctor or provider visits, hospital, copay and health insurance.

    In this small town, filling in your exact birthdate is the same as signing your name. I felt this was very intrusive, after all the assurances that the information was confidential. I would rather have had some general age category choices here.

    Note that the on-line survey does ask for your name, email address, and phone if you want to be entered in the May 5th raffle.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Sincerely,
    Carol Griswold

    • Maya Moriarty says:

      Carol, the window where you fill out your name for the prize drawing should not be connected to your survey so that it does remain anonymous. PHS is interested in the overall health and wellness of the community as a whole and not in individual results. As stated, you have the choice to not complete every question or not participate at all. Thank you for taking the time to participate.

  2. in a small town says:

    And the proceeds of selling the data collected in the survey
    goes to what highest bidder; or will a lowest-bid do, here?

    I too filled out the survey and wondered how skewed the
    results are for those who managed to actually own their
    own quaint hovel and so appear to have more money
    spent on health matters (or no money, still, for health care)
    among other minor issues where few fair choices exist.

    Or someone who may be a caretaker, working for a room;
    who can’t qualify for public assistance (as most single can’t)
    and who may also be not able to afford student loans to
    gamble on what the future may hold, so does not have those
    kind of numbers to show as income, against percentages.

    At least they didn’t ask for a respondents social security or AKDL #. :)

    Regards!

    ~in a small town
    kenai mountains, ak

  3. or you can just not fill out the survey.

  4. Traci Baumgardner says:

    The link to the survey didn’t work for me…