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Fort HealthCare begins door-to-door health needs survey

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Each year, Fort HealthCare authorizes a comprehensive survey to assess the general public’s individual healthcare status and health-related behaviors. Survey results guide the organization in identifying the need for new and improved services, addressing individual health conditions more effectively and in assessing the overall health of the communities it serves. This year’s survey will again be a door-to-door canvass and occur throughout the Fort HealthCare service area including Jefferson County, Cambridge and Whitewater. The survey process begins on May 30 and will continue until 400 surveys are completed.

This Community Health Assessment is similar to the one that occurred one year ago and is intended to mark progress that occurred towards improving the health status of area residents. Fort HealthCare has undertaken a comprehensive research process to better understand the healthcare needs of community residents with the goal of improving the health and well-being of the entire community. Research with internal Fort HealthCare staff and external constituents from the business community, local government, school districts, and support agencies across the service area has already helped identify key issues to address with the general public.

The next step in the process is to assess the general public’s healthcare status and health-related behaviors through a second door-to-door survey. Fort HealthCare President & CEO Mike Wallace stated “The research process will help us identify critical health needs to improve community health. With everyone’s full engagement we will be more likely to attain the desired status our vision calls for – to be the healthiest community in Wisconsin.” Survey results will help Fort HealthCare identify the need for new and improved services, address individual health conditions more effectively and assess the overall health of the communities it serves.

According to the Health of Wisconsin 2012 Survey, residents of Jefferson County fair poorly in rankings of both health factors (34th) and health outcomes (33rd) among 72 Wisconsin counties. Jefferson County ranks 31st in mortality (a measure of years of potential life lost prior to age 75) and 39th in morbidity (self-reported fair or poor health, poor physical health days, poor mental health days, and the percent of births with low birth weight). Results for Walworth County are also troubling. Resident health factors result in a rank of 26 and even worse for health outcomes (38th). Walworth County ranks 25th in mortality and 57th in morbidity.

The survey tool includes questions related to the adult respondent’s emotional and mental health, access to recommended health screenings, dietary and nutritional habits, exercise habits, tobacco and alcohol use, ability to access primary physician care and more. Respondents also have the opportunity to list those issues they believe are most important for Fort HealthCare to address.

An independent survey research firm has been hired to collect information from randomly selected households. Survey team members will go house-to-house and ring doorbells to contact a representative of that household and ask them to complete the three page survey. The survey should take only ten to fifteen minutes to complete. The survey team member will return in approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes to pick up the survey and answer any questions. All responses will remain anonymous and are not tied back to individual households. If a resident completed the survey last year and is contacted again, we kindly ask that the individual fill out the survey and return it to the canvasser.

Survey results will be used to help Fort HealthCare establish a baseline health status that can be extrapolated across the entire community served. The data will be instrumental in aiding Fort HealthCare in its mission to improve the health and well-being of the community.