Results of County Health Needs Assessment Highlighted


The second of three meetings regarding Prowers County Health Needs was conducted by Tommy Barnhart of the Colorado Rural Health Center this past Wednesday, January 9 at the County Annex.  Although the meeting was populated mostly by representatives of the county’s health providers, the areas reviewed were developed from a community based questionnaire.  The Wednesday meeting was intended to summarize the survey for demographics and economics of the respondents as well as health data.  As of mid December, 308 surveys had been submitted for analysis of which 228 were by email with a total of 289 in English and 19 in Spanish.  Justin Lee, Prowers County Director of Public Health and Environment, opened the gathering with a welcoming and an introduction of the participants.  

Barnhart stated that two things are needed in the community to generate any outcome.  That included input from residents through their recommendations and the availability of resources needed to respond to their recommendations.   He also recapped the initial meeting held in late November when the goals of the survey were presented.   

Statistics on those responding indicated that at least 75% were female; households contained at least two individuals that were 65 or older, the majority age of responders was between 35-54  and a smaller but  balanced group had an equal amount between 25-34 and 55-64 years old.  The percentages among education also were fairly equal among a classification of ‘some’ college education to an associates degree, bachelor’s degree and post graduate degree.  Annual income statistics for the responders showed 25% with incomes between $35,000 to $50,000 annually, another quarter between $50,000 to $99,999 annually, and another 10% from $100,000 or more.  Approximately 37% responded that they did have some medical bill problems or debt that they were unable to pay. 

The questionnaire asked participants to rate various health issues by degree of severity according to their experiences or observations, ranging in increments from minor to major issues. The top priority for health concerns in the county listed either no insurance coverage or high insurance costs and high cost of medical care. Some other areas included higher attention focused on teen birth rates, mental health, obesity, unhealthy food choices, cancer, alcohol and drug abuse and lack of health education and access to health care.  Another high response rate centered on medical provider related issues including:  quality of local providers-lack of confidence, lack of specialists, high provider turnover, inadequate facilities, shortage of doctors and inability to get appointments. 

Regarding tobacco use, of the 308, approximately 200 said their households have someone who uses cigarettes, chew, pipe tobacco or cigars.  Just over 50% said they had conversations with their children regarding the harmful effects of using tobacco, alcohol or drugs and the majority responded that it would not be alright if their children used alcohol as long as they did not use other drugs.  About two- thirds responded that they had enough money to purchase prescription medications while 15% said they stopped taking prescription drugs because they could cost too much. 

Fifty-five percent of the responders felt there are not enough medical providers participating in Prowers County.  On the question as to whether considering the services offered by both High Plains Community Health Center and Prowers Medical Center… what services are not available that you believe would be beneficial?  There were 129 responses selecting: More and ‘better’ physicians, More and ‘better’ mental health services and Trauma Care.  On that same question the need was indicated for more ob/gyn; pediatrics, allergist, dermatology, endocrinology, orthopedics, advanced surgery, internal medicine and urology and nephrology. 

 The final meeting will be held on February 13.  Barnhart said evaluations would be presented on health services responses to the community and those recommendations they will implement, recommendations on which they would like to act on in partnership with others and those which fall outside their purview.

By Russ Baldwin

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