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Health website gathers data for local improvement plan

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The focus of treatment at hospitals plus the goal of prevention at public health agencies equals progress.

That is what community members, representatives within the health-care workforce and staff members at the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization want to see, with use of the North Country Health Compass.

“We need to be able to monitor progress; it’s where the website really takes hold,” said Ian D. Grant, the planning organization’s community and patient engagement team leader. “Hopefully this will be a lifetime process.”

The health compass website was developed last year, and has been in a soft launch since the fall. The planning group received a $225,000 grant from the state Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health to develop a customized Web-based health, quality-of-life and environmental information system; facilitate a regional community health assessment and community improvement plan, and develop and implement a plan to get patients more engaged in their health care.

“The goal of the assessment was to see what are some of the issues, health concerns in all three counties,” Mr. Grant said. “After that, it was ‘How do we shift to turn that into something tangible to work with?’ We said, ‘Let’s zone in on a few things we can manage.’”

As a result, the effort will focus on chronic diseases, maternal and child health and behavioral health. Tracy L. Leonard, regional recruitment project manager for FDRHPO, said those key points fall in line with how the state aims to achieve being the healthiest state in the nation.

“New York state has a prevention agenda that provided a blueprint for goal setting,” she said.

The mission for the health compass is “measuring health, inspiring community wellness.”

As the state’s plan provided guidance, FDRHPO asked community members — ranging from health care professionals to people below the poverty line — to respond to a survey about local health needs. Ms. Leonard said community members are encouraged to be a part of the community project by visiting the health compass website and learning what is happening healthwise in their respective communities and counties. Knowing trends may help change them, she said.

Data on the site may be used for grant application writing to help improve a specific area of health in a given community or county, she said.

A public launch/celebration of the website is expected to occur this spring.

For more information, visit www.ncnyhealthcompass.org.

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