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STG Public Health, SCMC partner with UMM on public health assessment project

MORRIS – Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health and Stevens Community Medical Center have partnered together to conduct a public health assessment of the five counties that are part of the Horizon Community Health Board: Stevens, Traverse, Grant, Douglas and Pope.

In order to gather the data needed for the assessments, the organizations have enlisted the help of the Center for Small Towns, a community outreach program through the University of Minnesota, Morris.

In compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in 2010, Stevens Community Medical Center and other not-for-profit medical facilities are now required to conduct a community assessment every three years. This assessment looks at the health needs of the community that SCMC serves.

STG Public Health also conducts a formal data assessment every five years to determine demographic and health information of its three counties. By completing this assessment every five years, STG Public Health is able to see how the counties have changed and what aspects of public health have improved or may require more attention.

STG Public Health also works to assess the health needs of the community on an on-going basis such as what makes people in the community sick, environmental risks and demographics of the community.

“The assessments allow public health to keep an on the pulse of the community,” said Sandy Tubbs, director of STG Public Health. “The assessment shows what needs to be addressed and then we try to determine what would be an effective solution and how we can do it.”

Douglas and Pope counties will also complete their own public health assessments, using the data harvested by Center for Small Towns.

Maddie Moyer, UMM Statistics Major and Center for Small Towns student, began collecting data from the Minnesota Department of Health database in September 2012. Moyer collected data following the MN state health assessment guidelines, which includes mortality rates, causes of death, demographics and disease that affect the area such as tick-bourne diseases.

“In my stats classes, we are given the data in class and are asked to analyze it,” said Moyer. “We don’t learn how to look for and clean data in school. So it is nice to have that background knowledge now.”

“This would be a very difficult task without the University of Minnesota, Morris or Center for Small Towns assisting with the research,” said John Rau, president and CEO of SCMC.

The assessment will be a combination of data compiled by Moyer and information sought out from community members at a community meal, which will take place in the beginning of June. The community meal will feature a World Café Conversation, which is a conversation style that encourages participation through a number of small group conversations, where each group will have a designated question to answer and will then rotate throughout the different stations.

“The data may show one thing as a health issue in the community, but community members may be concerned about another thing that doesn’t show up in the data,” said Tubbs. “We want the assessment to include both quantitative and qualitative information.”

The data collection will be completed by the beginning of May, with analysis to follow. SCMC is required to have their assessment completed by the end of 2013.

Once the assessment has been completed, STG Public Health and SCMC will know what the top issues are in the community and will begin to implement projects to address those issues.

“We may find that there are shared issues that affect both SCMC and Public Health, such as obesity,” said Tubbs. “From a medical standpoint, there may be additional screenings or provider recommendations made to patients. Public Health may focus on whether people have options for living a healthy lifestyle and making more opportunities to be more active. We will look to see how Public Health can reinforce [medical] providers’ recommendations.”