Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local news

January 30, 2013

Community helps with needs assessment

Cordele — In a meeting of some 20 individuals from the Crisp County community earlier this week, lack of insurability was identified as the greatest deterrent to good healthcare in this county.

This was the first of three such sessions conducted by Crisp Regional Hospital, with assistance from the auditing firm of Draffin & Tucker, in the development of a Crisp County Community Health Needs Assessment. Facilitators from Draffin & Tucker already had gathered many health statistics and compared those to state and national averages.

While many of these statistics are alarming, Rhonda Barcus and Heather Haley explained that numbers don't tell the whole story. "We want to hear what people in the community think are the most pressing health issues," Barcus said.

Two health outcomes and three health factors were measured in Georgia's 159 counties. Crisp County ranks 136th in length of life and 144th in quality of life.

When considering social and economic factors which are determined by educational levels of citizens in the county, unemployment, children in poverty, children in single parent homes, inadequate social support and violent crime, Crisp County ranks 154th.

In the area of health behaviors including smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, excessive drinking,  motor vehicle crashes, sexually transmitted diseases and the teen birth rate, only 37 counties have worse records than Crisp County.

On the plus side, Crisp County ranks 61st in access and quality of care which takes into consideration the ratio of primary care physicians to patients, uninsured persons, preventable hospital stays, diabetic and mammography screening. According to county health rankings, 23% of Crisp County residents are uninsured which compares to 21% statewide. This does not take into account, however, the number of people who are underinsured.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Crisp County and Georgia, but county percentages are slightly higher than the state average. The same is true of the second leading cause of death, heart disease. Chronic respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death, and considerably higher in Crisp County than throughout the state.

Stroke is number four and accidents, number five.

After discussing at length some of the reasons for the statistics, participants were asked to identify the county's most pressing problems. In addition to lack of insurability, the group said lack of parental involvement is a major cause of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, obesity leads to a host of health issues and senior citizens often don't get the treatment they need because they can't afford their medicines.

Not only will the facilitators meet with additional groups of citizens, but they also will conduct some one-on-one interviews. They will compile all the information they gather and come up with a health needs assessment which should be available to the public on the hospital's website by this summer.

Using the assessment, Crisp Regional Hospital will create an implementation strategy, deciding which problems they can do something about.

This will be a good tool to help the hospital determine if it is meeting the needs of the community, says Crisp Regional Health Services President and CEO Steve Gautney.

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