Local News

Health survey targets areas of concern

Thayer County weighed in on the Public Health Solutions District-Wide Community Health Survey at 6.9 percent with 54 respondents.
The survey results were released in early February. Public Health Solutions covers a five-county area of Thayer, Fillmore, Jefferson, Saline and Gage with a population of 54,490.
People living and working in Gage County contributed the majority of the results and no one under the age of 20 was interviewed. Interviews were conducted between Nov. 8 to Dec. 20 of 2016.  
The largest age group of those interviewed were between 50 and 54 years old with 86 respondents. Next was the 35 to 39 age group (81 respondents), followed by 30 to 34 years (80) and 40 to 44 years (78).
The results called attention to a slight bias in younger respondents as 77 people, ages 25-29, were interviewed, and toward health care providers. Of the several hundred respondents, 278 of them work in health care, which accounted for 40.2 percent of the results.
Administrative Coordinator for PHS Caitlin Moore, said PHS wanted to note most of the responses came from Gage County and issues discussed at hospital community meetings may differ between the counties, something the individual hospitals would tackle with PHS support.
From the survey results report Moore compiled with Jenik Davis of PHS, she noted several areas of concern: the 48.9 percent who admitted to binge drinking during the past month and less older adults receiving vaccinations.
Only 19.5 percent of adults statewide said they participated in binge drinking, according to America’s Health Rankings. Of the people surveyed for vaccinations, 31.8 percent said they did not receive the flu shot in the past year.  
“The other thing that surprised me was distracted driving,” Moore said.
Admitting to distracted driving were 94.5 percent of the respondents, who said they were talking, texting, reading, applying makeup, fixing their hair and eating or drinking while driving.
Moore found emergency preparedness and residents who want solutions to healthy lifestyles refreshing.
“It was promising to me people are interested enough in a healthy lifestyle to be contacted,” Moore said. “Information will be sent to those folks who requested it.”
On emergency preparedness, 13.9 percent said they were interested in more information.
Healthy lifestyles was a popular category at 21.9 percent wanting materials. Health screenings, colon cancer test kits, Safe Kids and CPR trainings were additional points of interest.
The survey identifies the following areas of concern for PHS: drugs, alcohol, lack of proper nutrition, lack of exercise and obesity.
“The idea is through this community health planning process, it helps us figure out where the district needs are moving in the next three years,” Moore said. “We have offices in Crete and Beatrice, but service five counties, and we want to make sure they  are beneficial and useful to our counties.”
In 2013, the community priorities were increasing access to medical and dental care and mental health; more use and availability of preventive health services; behavioral health; and family support services.
The goal is a community-driven plan that isn’t necessarily from a hospital or health department.
“People would like more recreational opportunities and healthier lifestyles, also nutrition,” Moore said.
For issues facing residents of the five counties, 128 people disagreed they are provided with enough recreational opportunities and 104 said they are in need of transportation services.
Health-wise, 42.6 percent said they were in “very good” health and 39.5 reported “good” health.
For people who seek medical care, 88.1 percent visit a medical clinic. Percentages for visiting the hospital emergency room, urgent care and veterans clinic were below five percent. Not seeking medical care was 4.1 percent.
On “very serious” health issues, 260 respondents said obesity and being overweight was a problem while 155 said diabetes was a viable concern as well as cancer as 152 said it was “very serious.”
Mental health including depression was viewed as very serious by 186 people. Only 110 people considered suicide as a problem.
The survey went through diet, including access to healthy vending, purchase of fruits and vegetables, daily intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, daily vegetable intake and body mass index calculations.
In the coming weeks, PHS will work with hospitals to schedule community meetings. The meetings will take PHS concerns and identify broad areas of priorities.
The survey may be found at http://phsneb.org/. Public Health Solutions works with area hospitals to improve health in each county.  

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