As part of an effort to better serve the health needs of Washington County, Memorial Community Hospital and Health System (MCH&HS) is asking community members to fill out a community health survey.

The survey is completed every three years in partnership with Three Rivers Public Health Department, which serves Dodge, Saunders and Washington counties. The survey is a federal requirement because of the hospital's nonprofit status, and Community Development Coordinator Laura Willey said it allows MCH&HS to know what the community's health strengths are and helps the hospital better serve the most pressing health issues.

"It gives you a broad picture of what is needed and what the health issues are," she said. "It tells us where to focus on."

MCH&HS hopes to get at least 500 responses to the survey. The survey will take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. It asks questions such as how often people feel ill, see a doctor, what prevents them from seeking care or what health issues they've had.

The survey can be taken online through a link on Three River's website. Hard copies can be picked up at MCH&HS' front desk. They should be completed by July 19.

Willey said the last survey showed issues like obesity and heart disease were two health issues the community needed addressed. She said that knowledge caused MCH&HS to focus their care and educational community activities more on those issues. In addition, Willey said having data to show what the community needs help the hospital apply for local, state and federal grants.

"It gives you some meat to it, to say when you're applying for grants, 'Hey, look this is our numbers, the priorities in our community,'" she said. "A lot of data will drive those grants and give legs to it."

Once the surveys are completed, Three Rivers will review the data and develop its health plan for the next three years. Three Rivers will then provide MCH&HS with Washington County's health data so MCH&HS can do the same. Willey said businesses and any interested individuals can reach out to the hospital if they want to take part in a one-day meeting to discuss the health plan.

"What we did (last survey) is we formulated plans and goals for what the community said they needed," Willey said.

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