Help for indigent, transportation top list of needs in health survey
Polk County Enterprise, June 2007
LIVINGSTON – Medical and dental clinics for indigent families and transportation for families to access health care top the list of health-related services needed in the Livingston area, according to results of a Community Health Needs Assessment survey released last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
The survey was designed to provide information that can assist individuals and organizations in improving community health and maximizing health resources in East Texas. Information was gathered in 35 East Texas counties through community forums and online and paper surveys.
Fifteen people participated in a Community Health Needs Forum held in Livingston on March 8. Nine Polk Countians submitted online or paper surveys, according to DSHS. In the 35-county area, 470 individuals shared their views through 17 community forums held in various locations, with 1,924 completing the survey.
The majority of community forum participants, including those attending the Livingston forum, were health-related providers.
In the 35-county area, dental, mental health, substance abuse, medication assistance and healthcare for the working poor (uninsured or underinsured) were the most common services-needed themes identified at the forums.
Most identified as services most difficult for individuals to receive were mental health counseling and treatment, health insurance, dental care, emergency mental health treatment and emergency alcohol and drug treatment.
Most identified as services not available for individuals in need were emergency alcohol and drug treatment, emergency mental health treatment, bicycle trails, walking trails and sidewalks and mental health counseling and treatment.
Major health problems most cited were obesity, drug abuse, poor eating habits, smoking tobacco and lack of physical activity or exercise.
Four recommendations were made as a result of the survey:
1. DSHS should go back to the 17 communities where community forums were held and present findings specific to the area.
2. At least three community health task forces in East Texas should identify and prioritize two or three community health issues they would like to address.
3. DSHS should work with those task forces in developing a plan of action to address prioritized community health issues.
4. DSHS should provide support, such as meeting facilitation, to the task forces as they implement their plan of action.