Your input needed: Survey to identify health priorities in Clark, Champaign counties

Health agencies in Clark and Champaign counties are working to determine the area’s health needs.

Springfield has kicked off its 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), a survey taken every three years to identify the top health concerns in Clark and Champaign counties.

“It’s important to be in line with what is happening in our community so we can be working for the betterment of our community,” explained Mercy Health – Springfield’s Community Health Director Carolyn Young. “This assessment aligns us with other community groups so we can work collaboratively to make sure we’re supporting those needs in every way possible.”

The assessment asks for community input on items ranging from local health resources, barriers to care, and gaps in services to trends regarding health and healthy lifestyles, according to a Mercy Health press release.

“We talk to people and find out their thoughts on what it means to be healthy – do you have access to healthy food? To recreational areas where you can get physical activity? Can you afford your prescriptions? Those are just some examples,” explained Chris Cook, the Assistant Health Commissioner for Clark County Combined Health District.

Mercy Health works with the health district to collect data for the CHNA.

The top three focus areas identified during the last assessment, conducted in 2019, were chronic disease; maternal, infant, and sexual health; as well as mental health and substance abuse.

Health officials think recent events may see some of those needs change.

“It’ll be interesting to see how some of the data plays out when we’re assessing people’s thoughts on access to health care and what they believe the capacity of the community is, because I’m not sure those questions would be answered the same way had we not had a pandemic,” said Cook.

Mercy Health has seen a significant drop in preventative health screenings since the COVID-19 pandemic began; however, the rates for cancer and other diseases have not seen the same decline.

“We want to be able to catch things that need to be caught, so they’re not advancing those chronic disease numbers. We want to keep people healthy and the best way to do that is to make sure people are seeing their doctors,” explained Young.

She hopes the feedback from this year’s assessment will shed light on how to address the barriers that are keeping people away.

The goal of this year’s survey is to document what the top community needs are, but also guide the health system’s community benefit efforts as it plans and prioritizes those investments.

To ensure the survey is an accurate reflection of the community’s needs, health officials are relying on people’s willingness to share, Mercy Health said.

“We want to make sure people feel cared for and that we’re helping them meet their needs to the best of our ability. So, we really try to get out there to hear what individuals have to say,” said Young.

The 2022 CHNA is expected to be completed by this fall, according to the hospital, with an implementation strategy approved and in place by January 2023.

About the Author