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Hospital surveying area needs

October 11, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

HAGERSTOWN

daniels@herald-mail.com

Stress and anxiety are on the minds of a growing number of middle-aged workers in the region, according to preliminary findings from a Washington County Hospital survey that is to be concluded by the end of the year.

"I hadn't thought about that, but I think it's very reflective of today's lifestyles," said Becki Weir, human resources development consultant for the hospital. "Community health education is very important because so many of the prevalent diseases today are based on lifestyle choice. The whole goal: a healthier community."

In December 2004, the hospital was awarded a $23,500 grant by the outreach arm of First Data Corp. to conduct the Community Needs Assessment. The survey is designed to determine what health-related programs residents would like to see the hospital offer and in what form.

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Weir said the hospital has been conducting interviews with community and civic leaders, conducting focus groups, and distributing surveys to specific segments of the area to gather feedback from residents.

The survey asks residents to rank by importance what health-related issues they would most like to get information about. Topics include diabetes, heart disease, diet and physical activity. The survey also asks whether participants feel most comfortable learning about those subjects in large conferences, small-group settings, individual screenings or through other media.

Mark Rulle, director of human resource development for the hospital, said he believes a lack of awareness keeps many residents from taking part in education programs, and that one of the major challenges will be to find a way to make the hospital's programs more user-friendly.

The hospital offers a prenatal care program which Rulle said he believes is underutilized among expectant teenagers who simply do not know help is available to them.

"It's in everybody's benefit to take care of those issues before they become issues," he said. "What we're trying to do is create an educational center that is accessible to people in the community and the programs are relevant to other people in the community."

Rulle said the hospital must compile a report based on the surveys by the end of the year. He said the hospital will share information with other health agencies in the region in order to plan cooperative programs and enhance existing programs.

Weir said she has received more than 1,200 surveys. Individuals and groups may call Weir at 301-790-8626 to receive copies of the surveys.

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