JCHD sends out Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan survey

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

Every three to five years, the Jessamine County Health Department (JCHD) creates a Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan.

The last one it did was in 2018, and now it has sent out a survey once again to ask Jessamine County residents what they believe the most pressing health issues are for the community. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete and will close on Nov. 20. It can be found here at https://jessaminehealth.org/cha/

“The survey is kind of the key part of this because from that we can really see what our community sees as concerning or health issues that need to be addressed in our community,” said Melinda Barkley, the communications and marketing director for the JCHD.

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In addition to about 28 questions, the survey asks for some personal demographic information.

Barkley said the health department “won’t do anything with that information except use it to help us break down some of the other areas as far as what issues are being highlighted by what demographic groups.”

Barkley said that the survey allows people the option not to answer but that she would like them to respond.

It will be especially helpful because the last question asks about the survey-takers experience with personal discrimination. The demographic information is essential for the health department to understand the survey answers.

Albeit an important one, this survey is only one step of the community health assessment and improvement plan.

Before the survey’s release, the kick-off for the assessment and improvement plan process was in September. Through the kick-off, the health department brought in community partners and to share the work of the previous years, and to discuss the upcoming improvement plan renewal.

After closing the survey, the health department will host a Community Health Conversations Forum on Tuesday, Nov. 28, from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Jessamine County Cooperative Extension Office at 95 Park Dr.

All community members are invited. Those interested can sign up at this link: https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/7570004/Community-Health-Conversations-Forum-Registration

“There are definitely key stakeholders we desperately want there, of course, but it is something that our community has a voice in. We want to let them be a part of that conversation for sure. So the forum is open to the public,” Barkley said.

Some of those key stakeholders are the police department, EMS, schools, local government officials, the county’s faith-based community, and individuals who work in the mental health and substance use disorder fields.

At the forum, everyone in attendance will be looking at the results of the survey as well as local data from other health assessments that have taken place.

The group will discuss what it is they see as the leading health factors that must be addressed in Jessamine County.

“From there, we create this improvement plan where we list in detail what those key goals are and the plan that we have in place to reach those goals,” Barkley said.

Although everyone is invited to the community forum, Barkley emphasized that the survey is a priority.

“We want to hear from as many people in the survey as possible. We want to get a variety of representation. We don’t just want to hear from one group of people. We want diversity,” she said.

Here’s a summary of the last health assessment and improvement plan to see what issues the community highlighted 5 years ago and how the JCHD took action.

The 2018 Health Assessment and Improvement Plan

From the 2018 survey, the four main health issues decided by the community were chronic disease, mental health, safety, and substance use and drug overdose. From that, four work groups were created with a few key issues highlighted for each of them:

Chronic disease: Health promotion, policy and program development, and funding.

Mental Health: Advocacy, prevention program.

Safety: Infant/child fatality, emergency preparedness, and motor vehicle safety.

Substance abuse/drug overdose: Reduce access to illicit drugs and inappropriate prescription drug use, improve drug overdose intervention and effective substance abuse prevention

Improve early intervention: Treatment, mental health and re-entry

These work groups are made up of community stakeholders and each group was able to come up with several action steps like events, training, and programs to help improve community health.

One example of an action step that has had moderate progress is one by the substance abuse/drug overdose work group.

This action step is to “provide school staff training about indicators for substance use by students and appropriate protocol for the referral process.”

For more information on the work groups’ progress, you can look through this work plan:

Click to access Q2-Update_Jessamine-County-Community-Health-Improvement-Plan-2022-Workplan.pdf

Barkley said the plan is to look at these highlighted issues and “see if they are still the same ones and if we need to focus on other areas. That’s why we want as many people in Jessamine County to fill out the survey because we definitely want every voice represented.”