E. HOLMES DISTRICT -- Students in the East Holmes District will be integral in helping to assess the health of and needs in the community.
A Community Health Assessment will connect to students in the schools, asking them to complete surveys on health behaviors, including exposure to violence, sexual health, nutrition, food and exposure to tobacco, said Pomerene Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Nicole Kolacz.
She said the hospital and the Holmes County General Health District are partnering together to complete the surveys, data from which supplies information on population health initiatives and can help to guide and obtain funding.
Working with building principals, she said, surveyors will randomly select students in grades 6-12 to participate, collecting data on an aggregate level, which is expected to be shared with the community in the fall. A similar sampling of students will be done in the West Holmes Local School District.
Health assessment surveys, she said, already have been conducted in 33 counties; however, within the next few years, all 88 of Ohio's counties will be required to participate, said Kolacz, who said coordinators already have met once with members of the community at large to discuss potential benefits.
In November, Holmes County Health Commissioner Michael Derr said representatives from several county agencies came together to select questions for the survey.
"I'm pretty pleased with how well the questions came together, because it is indicative of what public health needs, as far as requirements for accreditation, and general information we use as a benchmark as far as looking and evaluating impact in the community," he said.
Derr said it is the first time the health district has partnered with the hospital to conduct the survey.
"I'm really happy with the information we've gained from this," he said. "I think once we complete the Community Health Assessment, it allows the same group to look at an improvement plan and make sure we've got the right agencies dedicated to the right programs. This way, we're not duplicating services, we're aligning as well as we can and planning with the community."
He added that the Health Department can update its strategic plan by using the Community Health Plan.
"By utilizing that with our budgeting, we can make sure we are using our resources according to how the community is asking," Derr told his board.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.