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Identifying the needs of Henry County

County's public health department conducting survey to understand needs of the community

MT. PLEASANT — Those interested in helping to identify the public health needs of Henry County have an opportunity to make their voices heard throughout the month of February.

Henry County’s Department of Public Health, alongside Henry County Health Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are conducting a countywide health survey.

Kelly Carr, the community outreach coordinator for the department of public health, said the state requires counties to conduct a survey every five years.

While Henry County’s 2015 survey was based more on smaller focus groups, this new one is intended to be comprehensive look at access to services and health concerns county residents have. Results from the survey will help identify the needs of the community, direct programming in the community and will go toward developing a health improvement plan.

“[Doing a more comprehensive survey] is more effective and helps with grant writing,” Carr said. When the department is looking for funding, the data collected from the survey will be an easy way to point to needs identified by the community itself.

“I anticipate mental health and transportation being identified, which we’re already working on. They’ve been identified in other situations but we really don’t know, which is the exciting part of it,” Carr said.

The community outreach coordinator said the department’s goal is to get 1,000 responses. As of Feb. 12, 602 total responses have already been submitted.

“We really want this to be representative of all of Henry County. We really want to encourage everybody [to take the survey]. This is their chance to get their voice heard in what they feel is important and what is needed in our community,” Carr said.

Abigail Heaton, the Health Resources & Services Administration grant assistant and graduate student at the University of Iowa helped compile the questions for the survey. Heaton explained the questions fall under three main themes.

“There’s perceptions of needs in the community targeted at understanding what people want and need. Then there are two questions on food insecurity, and the last part is all about access to services — are people having a difficult time and why,” she said.

Once the survey has been concluded and a final report is published, a community meeting will be held in March. Carr also mentioned organizations throughout the county will be able to use the information from the report to serve the county.

Paper copies of the survey are available at 17 sites across the county, including each town’s city hall and public library. In Mt. Pleasant, surveys are also available at the REC Center, the hospital information desk, the Public Health Department and ISU Extension office. The survey can also be found online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/HealthyHenry. The survey will be open through Feb. 29.