The results of a recent health survey of Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota will help Winneshiek Medical Center plan for the future.

WMC Chief Administrative Officer Gretchen Dahlen reported on the survey at a recent WMC Board of Trustees meeting.

Dahlen explained as a non-profit Medical Center, WMC is required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide a community health needs assessment every three years and adopt an implementation strategy to meet the needs identified through the assessment.


Dahlen explained WMC partnered with Winneshiek County Public Health, Fillmore County (Minn.) Public Health and Houston County (Minn.) Public Health in gathering the information.

"The survey was available between March 3 and 24, and 341 people took it," said Dahlen.

She said in addition to the general public, all area health providers were invited to comment, as well as school, government and business leaders.

Categories included health of youth and young adults, health of adults and the general public, adequacy and affordability of healthcare services, public health and environmental hazards and preventing injuries.

Scoring ranged from 0, which meant the person didn't know anything about the topic to 4, which indicated they felt the problem was serious.


Dahlen said those responding indicated they felt ambulance response times were no problem or not a problem and scored them at less than 1.5.

The top 10 serious problems listed, in order of importance from most to least, included obesity among adults, obesity among youth, diabetes, high out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and services not covered by health insurance, heart disease, skipping or delays in care because of cost, maintaining health eating and nutrition regardless of age, cancer, manufacturing or use of drugs and difficulty in finding affordable health insurance coverage.

Dahlen said four problems listed as "serious" that did not make the top 10 included misuse of drugs and alcohol, depression or suicide in adolescents, soft drink consumption among youth and uninsured individuals.

In addition, Dahlen noted the percentage of respondents who indicated specific areas of concern, including: local availability of mental health providers (70 percent), high blood pressure (77 percent), parenting/child neglect (71 percent), smoking and tobacco-related diseases (82 percent), availability of dentists that accept Medicaid (42 percent), difficulty staying fit in the workplace (71 percent) and misuse of prescription medication (62 percent).

What's next?

Dahlen said the assessment will be part of the Medical Center's strategic plan on a long-term basis.

"This helps us with demographic trends that will impact our Medical Center. Community health insights also impact our strategic priorities (e.g. efficiency, effectiveness and health impact) and strengthen community collaborations to improve health outcomes," she said.