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Madison explores top health issues

By Marianne Graves

Creating a healthy community and strong public health system requires conversation with local residents to talk about their health care needs, barriers to care and what existing resources are helpful to them.

The Department of Health in Madison County and Madison County Memorial Hospital are hosting a day-long Community Health Needs Assessment Health Summit today, June 7, to partner with North Florida Community College at Student Center Building 9 in Madison.

Kimberly Allbritton

Local agencies are seeking public comments from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at this mid-week summit to plan priorities for the next three-to-five years. Their goal is to develop a new five-year Community Health Improvement Plan for Madison County.

“We are excited to partner with Madison County Memorial Hospital to work towards a healthier Madison County,” said Kimberly Allbritton “This is a vital step in making plans to address Madison’s unique health improvement needs,” she said. Allbritton is the newly-named administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Jefferson and Madison Counties.

“Ms. Allbritton has served in this role before and has a proven track record with advancing public health for the people of Jefferson and Madison Counties,” said Paul Myers, Deputy Secretary for County Health Services for the Florida Department of Health. “I am more than confident that she will continue this dedication while she serves as administrator,” he said in a June 2 announcement.
The administrator position for Jefferson and Madison was previously held by Jennifer S. Johnson, who will now serve as the Florida Department of Health’s new Division Director of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management.

NFCC Building 9 -Photo: Submitted

Tammy Stevens

Today’s day-long summit at North Florida Community College will include a presentation on the health status of Madison County residents on a wide range of indicators, such as maternal and child health, violence and injury and chronic diseases.

“This is a community-driven process, so we are encouraging our community to participate,” said Tammy Stevens, Chief Executive Officer for Madison County Memorial Hospital.

The Community Health Needs Assessment delves into the health of a community: Its role is to identify factors that affect the health of a population and determine the availability of resources within the community to adequately address those factors.

The Health Department and Madison County Memorial Hospital project staff has asked Madison County business members, organizations, city and county government, churches, schools and residents to attend and provide input. They know the activities of many organizations contribute to community health improvement.

Health information directly related to Madison County residents will be presented. Stevens said that breakout group questions include, “Did you have any surprises with these data? What data stands out in your mind? What seems the most critical issue to address? What are you most doubtful about? What questions does this raise for you? What other things do we need to consider? What options are open to us?” Undoubtedly, there will be surprises.

After the presentation, participants will be asked to rank the areas that are the most important for Madison County to address. Participants will then spend the second half of the day discussing the top-ranked areas in focus groups, identifying the reasons and circumstances that create them as priority areas as well as barriers and challenges related to addressing them. With a wealth of information to be gleaned from the public during this Health Summit, the data will then be analyzed.

So, how long does it take to receive results from a Community Health Needs Assessment?

“This time varies depending on staff and how much involvement you have from the community and community partners,” said Allbritton. “The process usually takes up to six months to a year to coordinate, gather and analyze the data,” she said.

The resulting work plans will identify goals and objectives, an action plan, and enlist the help of community partners to help sustain the new Community Health Improvement Plan for Madison County.