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Good Shepherd to unveil health data at May 14 meeting

Data on everything from Umatilla County residents’ marijuana use to their blood pressure will be available to the public at a Community Health Assessment Rollout meeting.

The meeting, open to the public, will take place on May 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston, Conference Room 1 and 2 (through entrance C). Lunch will be provided, and participants are asked to RSVP to 541-667-3509.

Good Shepherd and St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton teamed up for a county-wide set of surveys conducted at the end of 2018. They were mailed to 3,600 Umatilla County residents.

A “general adult” survey with 112 questions on it drew 254 responses, a survey asking parents about their children drew 161 responses, 186 adults returned surveys in Spanish and 156 Spanish-speaking parents filled out a survey about their children.

Jaime Crowell, community health educator for Good Shepherd, said responses from the survey, which hospitals are required to complete every three years, will be used to help inform Good Shepherd and St. Anthony as they create a plan for meeting their communities’ health needs. Partners who helped come up with survey questions — including organizations such as school districts and Head Start — will also benefit.

“The data will be available to the entire community,” she said.

Juli Gregory, director of education for Good Shepherd, said the hospital has made changes in response to past surveys. Answers indicating poor diabetes management, for example, led to the creation of more educational classes that would help people manage their condition.

Some of the topics touched by the survey questions include cancer, heart disease, hypertension, weight, exercise, diet, mental health, opioid use, firearm ownership and storage, binge drinking, violence, childhood trauma, chemical exposure, dental care, sexually transmitted diseases and access to health care.

Gregory said there weren’t huge surprises in the survey results but there were some numbers that went up or down from previous years.

Umatilla County remains worse than the national and state average in several categories. Forty-one percent of survey respondents were obese, for example, and the county had higher rates of postpartum depression.

Responses varied between the Spanish and English surveys in some cases. Spanish-speakers listed exposure to agricultural chemicals as the top environmental threat to their health while English-speakers listed bad air quality.

Crowell said while the numbers were helpful, community members should also look at them in context. A drop in people reporting high blood pressure could mean that residents are taking better care of themselves but it could also mean a drop in the number of people being screened and informed of their high blood pressure.

Nick Bejarano, director of marketing and communications, said many health problems seem to stem from people not having primary care providers, something Good Shepherd is trying to address with their new primary care clinic that opened this month.

All three Good Shepherd employees urged Umatilla County residents to attend the rollout meeting on May 14 to hear about the survey responses and what they indicate. The data will be presented by Tessa Elliot, community health improvement coordinator for the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, which conducted the survey.

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