To do so, students are teaming up with Northwest Georgia Public Health to collect data and opinions about the community and what residents would like to see in the form of health and wellness resources in and around the LakePoint campus, including the city of Emerson. A survey is available online for public participation in the gathering of this information, but will only be open for a few more days.
“This is a project I was hoping to do involving a health needs assessment in relation to the LakePoint project,” said Health Services Program Manager Lisa Greeby of Northwest Georgia Public Health. “It looks at how this project will impact Emerson, Bartow County and the region. We don’t really focus on the negatives. We look to see what is missing and that’s one reason for the survey is trying to get people’s feedback. What do you want to see happen in this area? What do you feel is a need? One of the questions on the survey is, ‘Do you own a bicycle?’
“And, in turn, we’re going to share this information with LakePoint as well as Emerson City Council and Bartow County government, saying, ‘Feedback is, people want to rent bicycles, people want bike paths, people need more grocery stores.’”
The suggestions made by Greeby were just examples of what may come from the survey. As of Tuesday morning, 500 people had taken the survey, although the group’s goal is to have 1,000 participants take the survey by Friday at 11:45 a.m.
Greeby, along with Shorter students and Bartow County Grant Writing Director Valerie Gilreath, put together the brief survey, estimated to take no more than five minutes to complete. The survey begins with a few demographic questions, including ZIP code, age, education and income, but otherwise it is completely anonymous. After the demographic questions are completed, survey participants will answer a variety of questions concerning the availability of resources in the areas of health, food and recreation.
The participating Shorter University students are in the bachelor’s-level nursing program, which demands the students learn tasks beyond the practice of nursing procedures. In this project, for the Global and Community Health course, students are researching needs and opportunities, while marketing the survey and promoting healthy behavior.
“We were supposed to find a group that needed some type of impact and need assessment, so that’s how we got paired up with the LakePoint project and that’s what we have tailored our project to,” said student Brooke Blankenship. “With the LakePoint project, there will have to be a lot of infrastructure change. So they could actually implement a lot of the changes that people want to see. They can include sidewalks or make bike paths. There will have to be more groceries stores, restaurants and living facilities — all of that can be tailored toward a healthy lifestyle if that’s what they find the people really want.
“In a project like this, you see that certain communities have certain health problems associated with them and a lot of that has to do with access to healthy grocery stores with healthy food, whether or not they use tobacco, education levels, socioeconomic status. You get to see how much that ties in to their health care.”
Guidelines and objectives for the project are tailored to the local community, but based on many of the goals for public health and wellness outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Healthy People 2020 initiative. For more information, visit www.healthypeople.gov.
As for Greeby and those at Northwest Georgia Public Health, officials will be able to use the same data as is presented to local government and LakePoint representatives for better service of the Emerson area. They also, however, will be able to use data from many of the questions to better guide existing programs, such as the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line — 1-877-270-STOP.
“This is a first-time project for us as well as the students,” Greeby said. “We knew we needed some demographic information, ZIP code, household size, income — just basic demographic things you have to have. Then we asked about education and then really got into the questions we really wanted to know, like, ‘Are you a tobacco user?’
“That’s the area I really focus on and that will help me promote tobacco awareness toward a specific area — cigarettes, cigars, smokeless — because many aren’t aware that there is currently nicotine replacement therapy available for all adults, insured or uninsured.”
Students working on the project expressed a growing confidence in their abilities to research and make connections within the community that may have once been beyond their comfort zone. Students have contacted business and community leaders to get the word out about the survey. They also have been promoting the survey to churches, civic organizations and in a radio interview with WBHF 1450 AM.
“I think it’s been interesting because they have to look at health care from infancy through to the elderly, access to health care, transportation. They have to look at all aspects of the community and I think that has been an eye-opener for them,” said Shorter University Nursing Instructor Elice Baldridge.
Students and public health officials ask all Bartow County residents to participate in the brief survey available from the Northwest Georgia Public Health website, www.nwgapublichealth.org. On the Northwest Georgia Public Health homepage, click the SurveyMonkey link to be redirected to the needs assessment survey.