The Times West Virginian


April 24, 2014

Survey on county health needs available

FAIRMONT — A survey assessing the Marion County community’s health needs is now available online, and will be available for community members in paper form at public buildings across the county, including the public library.

The survey is part of the Marion County Community Needs Assessment, a new requirement for local nonprofit health organizations because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The assessment is required every three years, and in Marion County, was coordinated by the Fairmont General Hospital Foundation, in conjunction with Fairmont General Hospital and the Marion County Department of Health.

“Basically, it’s a survey that we’re going to conduct to see what the community thinks our biggest needs, and strengths and weaknesses are, and it will give us an idea of what groups may want to address in the future,” Whitney Hatcher, foundation coordinator, said.

The idea to collaborate and do one survey together was first suggested by Lloyd White, administrator with the Marion County Department of Health.

“It is a requirement by ‘Obamacare’ that we participate in this, and both groups needed to make sure it was done,” Hatcher said.

The process began in October, when Hatcher and Raymond Alvarez, a faculty member with West Virginia University’s Public Administration Program, met to discuss what the survey should look like and who should be included in the process.

“I suggested we involve the students I have at WVU because I teach research methods where we both devise surveys and analyze the data,” Alvarez said. “This was a good learning experience.”

The class helped gather local data, and one student, John Ridgway, has continued work on the project as part of a 500-hour internship program.

In December, Hatcher and Alvarez met with local agencies at a kick-off meeting, where they discussed an outline of the proposed survey.

After several months of development and testing to be sure the survey is statistically sound, the final version of the survey was approved a couple of weeks ago.

Hatcher said she hopes many members of the community will participate.

“We don’t just want certain types of people,” Hatcher said. “We want to get a true snapshot of what the community needs are here in Marion County.”

Hatcher said that the community will be able to see the results of the final assessment first hand.

“What we can do with this information is vital,” Hatcher said. “I know from my perspective as foundation coordinator, it could definitely shape what we do with fundraising projects and what community needs we address as a foundation.”

Alvarez said having concrete data on what the community’s needs are will be a great help to local organizations.

“If you were to develop a grant or a project, this is a good way to show how you have documented the need,” Alvarez said.

The survey will include no personal identifying information from participants and will ask the participants questions in several categories.

“It’s your opinions on what the most important health problems are, what has the biggest impact on overall health, and what the biggest risk factors are,” Hatcher said. “Participants also have the ability to rate their health and the health of the community.”

Alvarez said that the results of the survey should be available by the end of May or beginning of June, and will be published on Fairmont General Hospital’s website, and paper copies will be made available upon request.

Because the survey will impact the entire community, Hatcher said they have made many efforts to make the survey available conveniently for all.

In addition to advertising the link to the survey through social media, using Facebook and Twitter, there will also be physical copies available.

“We’ll have copies out in the community, here at the hospital, clinics, sporting events,” Hatcher said. “Any place you can attract a diversity of people. We don’t just want certain types of people.”

Copies will also be available at the Department of Health, the Soup Opera, the library and the United Way office, among other locations. Paper copies include a pre-paid envelope, so the surveys can easily be returned.

Alvarez said the official launch of the survey will be at FGH Appreciation Day, which runs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fairmont. Paper copies will be available at the event.

However, the survey is available now online, through May 15. It takes around 10 minutes to complete. The survey can be found at MarionCommunitySurvey.

“We’re hoping a lot of people will just go online and complete it,” Alvarez said.

Hatcher said she’s looking forward to seeing the results of the assessment.

“I’m really excited to see the results and what the community wants,” Hatcher said. “It’s a wish list, if you will. It’s the community’s way of sharing their wishes with us. It’s really exciting.”

Email Colleen S. Good at or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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