Derr stresses value of health assessment to commissioners

Derr stresses value of health assessment to commissioners
Dave Mast

Several members of Partners for a Healthier Holmes County met this summer to hash out details on the new Holmes County health assessment survey that is now available to fill out. The importance of the survey was shared recently with the Holmes County commissioners.


Over the past numerous months, the members of Partners for a Healthier Holmes County — a group made of many health-field professionals and other concerned citizens, have met together to hash out a county health survey that should provide the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Wayne and Holmes County and the Holmes County Health Department with valuable insight into the matters that matter the most to the people of Holmes County when it comes to their health, the health of the county and where the county needs to turn its attention toward in the future of meeting the needs of Holmes County’s health needs.

One of the people leading that charge is Michael Derr, Holmes County health commissioner, and on Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Old Jail meeting room, Derr passed along that passionate hope to the Holmes County commissioners, informing them of the importance of the survey.

“This assessment is giving a voice to the people as to what they’d like to their thoughts on where our health system is in Holmes County and the things that are important to them,” Derr told the commissioners. “This is about listening to our community and their thoughts on issues like mental health, primary care and issues that pertain to our overall health.”

The survey has been mailed out to 1,200 random Holmes County individuals, but the survey doesn’t stop there. The group has created an online version that is easy to fill out, taking participants easily through the process, and even providing them with a chance to win one of the $100 gift cards drawn randomly.

Derr said the nice thing about the assessment is that it comes directly from people in the Holmes County community who know and understand the values and issues at hand. He said each survey is confidential and there is no way for anyone to track information, noting it is 100% anonymous.

He said the survey takes about 20 minutes to fill out and those who didn’t receive one through the mail can visit the Partners for a Healthier Holmes County Facebook page, where there is a QR Code that provides simple access to the online version. There is also a hard link available.

The group would like to receive at least 265 surveys to get an accurate representation, but the more they receive, the better the quality of information will be in designing a flexible game plan to create important steps toward better health for the county.

“This is the first step in the process,” Derr told the commissioners. “This is the quantitative data stage. Once we accumulate the information, we will go to the next phase, which is the qualitative data, where we figure out what our barriers are and develop focus groups.”

He said bringing in a group who are diabetic to get their further input on what they see and hear about managing diabetes or the types of strategies they think would be the most beneficial for them is something worth doing.

“That is where we can really zero in and get the best ideas as to how to address different situations concerning health issues,” Derr said.

He went on to say that this data is necessary because the health department, Mental Health & Recovery Board of Wayne and Holmes County and other health field groups could go chasing after every grant available that could create health plans, but in the end, it would be a waste of time if the grant-funded projects don’t connect with the community’s needs.

Misty Burns, Holmes County Health board president, said the members are eager to get the survey out to the public and to experience a strong response that would benefit the people of Holmes County.

“We’re excited to get this assessment out into the community and eagerly await the results so we can program for the future and guide our efforts and talents toward what our community wants and needs,” Burns said.

Commissioner Dave Hall commended Derr and the entire group behind the assessment survey for their commitment to creating an opportunity to increase the county’s health care system.

“The importance of what the team has done is critical to creating a stronger health system and helps us be more flexible and have vision with our next steps toward overall public health in our county,” Hall said. “There’s a lot of grant funding out there, and it’s data and analytically driven, and to get those dollars, we need to prove we’re doing things the right way.”

There are bag stuffers at Rodhe’s IGA that provide additional information as to how the public can provide valuable information to the process. The group hopes to wrap up the survey collection process by the end of September and begin the process of assessing where the county stands versus other counties in Ohio and the national averages.

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