How effective is Harvey County’s health-care system, and what can be done to provide better care to community members? That is the question community leaders are asking as part of a county-wide project known as a “community health needs assessment.” Government officials, health-care representatives and other civic leaders met Tuesday at Prairie View to discuss the assessment and what they thought health-care priorities for Harvey County should be. John Leatherman of Kansas Rural Health Works spoke at the meeting and said he thought the community health assessment was a good idea. “We all have a stake in this,” he said. “... If anything is going to change or be better, you’re going to have to do it for yourselves.” He said the process should be community-driven, or “local people solving local problems.” Harvey County should identify its health-related priorities and then develop specific action strategies to implement goals. Some of the health-care concerns brought up by leaders during Tuesday’s workshop included: - Obesity and related health problems. - The need for better nutrition and more exercise. - The uninsured and those who may skip needed treatments due to cost. - Prenatal care and teen pregnancy. - Emotional and social support for families. - Access to dental and vision care. - Underage drinking and substance abuse.
Health care and the economy
Leatherman also highlighted the importance of health services to Harvey County’s economy. About 12 percent of Harvey County’s workforce is employed in the health services industry, which translates to more than 3,200 jobs. Sometimes, the quality of health care in a community impacts whether a company decides to locate within that community, Leatherman said. Local businesses also benefit when health-care workers spend their income on retail and services within the community. Even in tough economic times, the health-care industry has remained relatively stable. “It is likely to continue to grow and create economic opportunities for communities,” he said.