Community health assessment survey results are presented
The results of the tri-county 2011 MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) community health assessment survey are available. The survey was conducted to assess Eastern Panhandle citizens’ health concerns and issues. Over 1600 residents of Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties responded.
The three top areas that survey participants felt should be addressed were the access and quality of health care, economic security and public/community health, said Dr. Joy Buck of the West Virginia University Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, Eastern Division.
Buck is an associate professor at the School of Nursing and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine. Her presentation came at a Morgan County Wellness Committee meeting.
The top areas of concern under access to quality health care and public/community health were child abuse, domestic violence, access to affordable preventive health care, the quality of health care (primary and secondary care), access to mental and behavioral health care, access and supply of services to the elderly and disabled and access to substance abuse intervention and care.
Under safety, the environment, recreation and economic security, the top priority areas were economic development, better and higher paying jobs, better higher educational and job training opportunities, parks and recreation for families, gathering places for teens and young adults, more police and concerns over drug trafficking, organized outdoor activities and spaces for hiking, walking, biking and swimming and a cleaner environment.
Behavioral risk factors and health conditions were high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, no leisure exercise, cigarette smoking, no health insurance, illegal drug use, binge drinking and diabetes.
Some 19% or almost one in five babies born at eight diverse hospitals in West Virginia showed signs of alcohol or drug exposure.
There were 287 child abuse referrals in 2011 in Morgan County, with 124 accepted for investigation. In 2010, there were 63 reported domestic violence investigations in the county.
Counties completed four comprehensive assessments to identify community strengths and assets, health risk factors, local public health services and forces of change that may impact health.
Eastern Panhandle agencies and organizations initially took part in a MAPP visioning exercise that asked what their county needed to be a healthier place to live, work and play. Over 600 individuals responded in focus groups or at events.
Morgan County ideas for a healthier community included more jobs, better public transportation, drug prevention programs, teen hangout places, teen activities, a Route 522 bypass, lower taxes for seniors, more police, an indoor community center and a town walking/biking trail.
The MAPP assessment process helps communities identify their health issues and resources, assess their needs, form long-term goals, strategies and partnerships and take action to implement solutions.
“The data is so important for program planning,” Buck noted.
MAPP is a community-wide strategic planning tool for improving public health that was developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The collective action of community organizations, agencies, groups and individuals was needed to improve community health conditions and to address social, economic, environmental and biological factors to ensure public health.
Buck said they were studying care coordination and palliative care, substance abuse and behavioral health, social networks, the intergenerational impact of aging and referrals for care across state boundaries.
Research showed that 25% of high school drop-outs nationally had left school due to being caregivers for chronically ill adult family members. They’re trying to see how all the data fits together, she said.
Buck said a fulltime person was hired to work on the MAPP assessment. Their group would present assessment findings to all three county commissions.
MAPP sponsors and supporters include the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, WVU Hospitals East, the WVU School of Nursing, the Family Resource Network, the Health and Human Services Collaborative, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Berkeley County Health Department.
Local sponsors and supporters include War Memorial Hospital, the Morgan County Health Department, Starting Points and the Morgan County Partnership.