In 2012, the Geary County Health Department, Geary Community Hospital, and Geary County Schools – USD 475 began an effort to conduct a comprehensive community health assessment. This was intended to serve multiple purposes, including:
- A deeper understanding of community health issues of importance and the assets available to address those issues;
- A better ability to respond to community health issues and strive toward collective impact;
- Empirical support for identifying and prioritizing programs, policies and environmental or systems change that will help support improved health in the community.
Multiple methods were used as a means of identifying convergent themes that represent community health issues experienced by Geary County residents. Between October 2013 and February 2014, a number of data collection methods were implemented. A concerns survey was completed by 591 community members who rated the importance of and satisfaction with 37 key community health indicators. A series of focus groups took place comprised of 33 people across five sites in Geary County aimed at collecting qualitative information about quality of life experienced by participants, assets for community health, and conditions that contribute to health or illness. In addition, 11 interviews of key informants across Geary County were held to gather similar information about community conditions and assets that shape the community’s health.
A Local Public Health System Assessment was conducted to obtain community appraisal of the performance of Geary County’s public health system in fulfilling the 10 Essential Public Health Services. More than 60 community leaders and members participated in the assessment. Key community health status indicators were compiled across domains including clinical care, health behaviors, the physical environment, and social and economic factors. A Photovoice project was conducted with teens, affiliated with Junction City High School, who photographed community conditions that promoted or prevented health. Overall, more than 710 people participated in the community health assessment for Geary County. Data from each of these assessment methods were analyzed to identify to converging themes. Overall, themes fell under three broad categories: 1) strengths and assets; 2) perceived community challenges; and, 3) conditions for promoting health.