BurlCo. asks residents how they can support their health needs

This February, the county, as part of the South Jersey Health Collaborative, is surveying residents in an effort to bring residents resources tailored to their needs.

Burlington County wants to know what residents are doing to stay healthy, and how it can help. This February, the county, as part of the South Jersey Health Collaborative, is surveying residents to bring residents resources tailored to their needs.

Burlington County Health Department Director and Health Officer Holly Funkhouser Cucuzzella said the county distributes a new health survey every five years. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, as of 10 years ago, hospitals are also required to survey their communities to assess local health needs, so together the Burlington, Gloucester and Camden counties joined forces with five local hospitals to create the South Jersey Health Collaborative.

The approximately five-minute long survey asks residents a variety of questions to assess their health needs. From questions about screenings to whether they have access to transportation to health facilities, the survey takes a dive into a variety of factors that can play on a person’s health.

Funkhouser Cucuzzella said the feedback helps her department to determine the difference between what people perceive are the problems at work in the county and what factors are actually adversely affecting their health. She said from there, they can get to work addressing these issues.

For instance, in the 1990s, the county’s data indicated a need for a federally-qualified health-care and dental center in the county, so over the course of the next several years, the county made building those resources a priority.

More recently, data indicated the county’s lead testing screening rates were low. So, the health department sought out a variety of grants and is now bringing screenings directly into Burlington County communities.

The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University, Camden is handling the data collection. Funkhouser Cucuzzella said the county needs at least 300 submissions to get an accurate assessment, but the hope is for around 1,000 people to participate.

Analysts at Walter Rand are examining the data as it comes in. Additionally, they are reaching out to focus groups and community partners to get a more well-rounded idea of what’s happening in the county.

The anonymous survey will be open until March, and the health department will start receiving the results as soon as early April, Funkhouser Cucuzzella said.

From there, the health department can get to work on a County Health Improvement Plan.

Funkhouser Cucuzzella said this might mean they find out about a need in the community and have to get to work on a new initiative, or the data might indicate they need to tweak a program they currently have in place. In some cases, the data may show they just need to do a better job of marketing existing programs to the community.

Funkhouser Cucuzzella said she encourages residents to take the survey because the more responses they get, the better job they can do in tailoring their initiatives to residents’ health needs.

“It allows us to bring them programming not only that they want, but that can keep them healthy,” Funkhouser Cucuzzella said.

To take the survey, visit https://goo.gl/yEuYd6..