Calls for St. Clair County Health Inquiry Begin Next Week


If residents of St. Clair County see an outside or unknown number illuminating their phone screens in the coming weeks, it could be a data collector calling in to ask questions.

And health ministry officials want people to drop out.

The county is launching its next community health needs assessment and telephone surveys will begin next week. The last health survey was five years ago and the results were published in 2017.

A cyclical process that helps develop community intervention plans, the evaluation has previously addressed information on local adult health behaviors, including access to health care and literacy, chronic pain, ailments and common illnesses, care and disorders related to substance use.

Dr. Annette Mercatante, St. Clair County Medical Officer of Health.

This year, Dr Annette Mercatante, the county medical officer of health, said they were adding questions about trauma and the impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives.

“It’s about a 20-minute poll, so we’re hoping people will take the time to do it,” she said.

“These surveys are anonymous. They are not reported with a name – even to us, ”added Mercatante. “And they will be (put) neatly in aggregate form. … We hired professionally funded people to do this.

Who is doing the investigation?

The health department uses the same company, Illinois-based VIP Research and Evaluation, which oversaw the 2016 survey.

At the time, the contract was worth around $ 72,500. For this round, the county board of directors accepted a contract of up to $ 95,000 in May. Mercatante said the company used a service to dispatch calls before the data was aggregated.

Alyse Nichols, a health educator and spokesperson for the Department of Health, said the caller could appear as Tennessee area code 423.

“But depending on your phone provider, it may just say ‘Private’,” she said. “So we just encourage people to (to) answer the phones so that we can capture the data. “

Mercatante said they need around 1,200 respondents and that calls will likely continue until the fall or until they hit the target later this year.

What is health information used for?

The 2016 Health Needs Assessment divided the results into three county regions with data domains including lifestyle risks, mental health and pregnancies, as well as prevalence of cancer, diabetes. , lung and heart disease, stroke and more.

For example: About 33% and 32% of adults were obese and overweight, one in three adults said they had not seen a dentist, and three in 10 adults smoked, which is higher than the national average. The incidence of all cancers was lower than the state average, but the death rate in some areas of the disease was higher.

Mercatante said many of these “issues are still really valid”.

Once the data is collected and collated into a report, the health official said he would use it to develop annual plans on how to address key issues.

The annual update was supposed to arrive in recent years, but she said the process has been hampered by the pandemic.

Despite the setback, Mercatante said the benefits of a community-wide health plan were clear in responding to the pandemic. She pointed out that groups like the Diversity Initiative of St. Clair County and Blue Meets Green are helping to promote vaccines as examples of collaborative practices that are impacting.

Moving forward, Nichols said, “We’re going to use the data… to meet funding needs and to sort of prioritize where our resources are going. The voice of the community is what will drive this. That’s why we really need these answers.

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or jssmith@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @ Jackie20Smith.


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