By Heidi Zemach for SCN
Seward 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.
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.