Montgomery County wants to hear about your health priorities

The county’s Office of Public Health will use survey results to shape priorities for the upcoming Community Health Improvement Plan.

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A residential street in Norristown, Pa.

A residential street in Norristown, Pa. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Montgomery County is conducting its first-ever Community Health Assessment to better understand residents’ health priorities.

The anonymous survey is for anyone 18 and older and living in Montgomery County. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. Officials plan to use the data and information gathered from the assessment to create a Community Health Improvement Plan in the fall.

Christina Miller, administrator of the Office of Public Health, said this kind of community input is crucial for effective public health work.

“That was really, I think, for us the impetus for going about this process, to have community voices, and community perspectives, resident voices, resident perspectives, reflected in the data that we see and that we use to plan our work,” she said.

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The county has been working with partner organizations that are sharing the survey.

Miller said the pandemic public health emergency highlighted the need for “meeting people where they are.”

“Health inequities have existed for a very long time, the pandemic shined a light on those inequities and gave them renewed attention,” she said. “This community health assessment gives us a chance to ask our residents how they’re doing today following the pandemic, and gives us an opportunity to really incorporate our residents’ needs, priorities and hopes into our planning.”

The survey and promotional materials have been translated into several of the most-spoken languages in the county, including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese – Hong Kong, Simplified Chinese, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.

County Commissioner and Chair of Commissioners Jamila Winder said it is important for the survey to be inclusive..

“Certainly as a commissioner, I’m prioritizing our most vulnerable populations,” Winder said. “Be it our seniors, be it people of color, be it those from the LGBTQ+ community, those groups that maybe have historically been on the margins, and have maybe faced health inequities.”

The survey is available online and community members are encouraged to respond through the middle of May. Miller said that, so far, about 1,600 people have responded; the county’s target is 5,500.

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Results from the assessment will be published online at some point this summer. Winder said some of the information gathered might lead to policy and legislative changes.

“This information will really just help us as commissioners, and as we’re setting policy and working with our Office of Public Health and our head of Health and Human Services, it will really help to shape where we focus our energy and effort,” she said.

Miller said it’s a big payoff for a small investment of time.

“The 10 minutes that our residents spend completing the survey informs the work that their Office of Public Health does for the next three years,” she said.

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