County Launches Wellness Initiative

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Contributing Writer
Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services

“You are important,” Shelly Wells tells the residents of Chautauqua County. Wells, a Registered Nurse, serves as the Public Health Planner for the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services (CCDHHS). “What you think and care about is important,” she said.
The question Chautauqua County is asking its citizens is, “When you visualize the future health and well-being of Chautauqua County, what do you see?”
“We visualize health for all” Wells said. The county’s goal is “…a community where all people are treated fairly, where everyone has a voice in decisions that affect them, and where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”
Public health is more than caring for the sick and injured. The aim is to prevent people from becoming sick or injured. “We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors,” Wells said. “Prevention is a powerful thing.”

How It Will Be Done

Chautauqua County, through the CCDHHS, will collaborate with health partners (Brooks – TLC Hospital System, UPCM Chautauqua, Westfield Memorial Hospital, and many community partner agencies), to conduct a Community Health Assessment (CHA) which asks residents about their health needs through a Community Health Survey, a community-wide study.
Jamestown Gazette readers, and all community residents, are invited to take the survey, either online or on paper. It will only take 5 to 10 minutes to complete and is available in English (at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CHQCHA ) and in Spanish (at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CHQCHAS ).
“We want you to tell us about health concerns you have for yourself, your family, and your community” Wells said. This assessment will help identify key health needs and issues through systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis. “It is important that we hear from you.
You will help us identify the most pressing public health needs of Chautauqua County.”

How Answers Will Be Used

A Community Health Improvement Plan (or CHIP) will be developed. It is a long-term, systematic plan to address public health problems. It is based on the survey results and a community-wide health assessment. A CHIP is typically updated every three to five years. The CHIP is used by CCDHHS and its partners to set priorities and to coordinate and target resources. A CHIP is critical for developing policies and defining actions that promote health.
Local Chautauqua County participation in this survey is part of an even bigger Western New York initiative. All eight counties of WNY (Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming) are working together to identify regional health concerns. Eight questions on the survey are included in all the WNY County surveys. This will assist in identification of regional strengths and challenges. Stay Involved To Win!
All individual responses to the survey will be kept confidential, but survey respondents have the opportunity to provide contact information (not linked to survey answers). Respondents who do, will be entered to win one of five $40 Tops Friendly Markets Gift Cards that will be given away by random drawing.

Other Needs

The Community Health survey looks at many issues that determine the quality of life in the community, including what citizens value, and what families need to be well. That information cannot come from nation-wide or state-wide statistics provided by the CDC or the NYS Health Department. Local data sources are needed to serve local communities.
Many factors help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work, and play. In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of the factors that influenc how long and how well people live are health behaviors such as tobacco use, diet and exercise, substance use and abuse, sexual activity.
Social factors are also important, including education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety. The physical environment is also critical, taking into account such factors as air and water quality, housing and transportation.
Healthcare – both quality and access – contributes only about 20 percent to overall health and wellbeing of individuals and their community.

A Request

Shelly Wells and the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services asks everyone to please take the Chautauqua County Community Health Survey. Tell them: How can they reach you with important health information? What helps you make healthy choices? Are you able to get the health care you need? Are you concerned about nicotine and substance use?
Do you eat fruits and vegetables and exercise every day? Do you have health insurance? How do you feel about a law banning smoking in cars with kids?
“Your voice matters,” Wells said. “Please take the survey.”

Learn More

Links to the surveys and more information about the new county-wide health initiative are available on the Chautauqua County website: http://chautauqua.ny.us/219/Health-Human-Services .
Paper copies of the surveys have been distributed at several community and medical sites throughout the county. They are also available by request. For more information about the Community Health Survey or the CHA/CHIP process, please contact the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health at 1-866-604-6789.
A report of the 2019 CHA findings and the CHIP (when finalized) will be posted on the Chautauqua County, Public Health, website. http://chautauqua.ny.us/241/Public-Health .