New FDRHPO survey shows primary coverage up, emergency room visits down across tri-county

WATERTOWN, NY – The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) is pleased to release its 2018 Community Health Survey of Adult Residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties.

The survey, which has been completed annually by FDRHPO since 2016, reached 1,500 adult participants, including 550 each from Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties and 400 from Lewis County. Results from the survey offer a rich perspective of the health statuses, behaviors, and attitudes of those living in the north country.

Results from this year’s survey show positive trends in how and where north country residents are receiving their health care. For instance:

  • Fewer residents are using the emergency room for primary care – The percentage of north country adults who said they would go to an emergency room for medical attention “for a fever of 101” fell from 22% in 2016 to 15% in 2018.

  • More residents report having a usual source of primary care – The percentage who said they had a regular health care provider increased from 78% in 2016 to 83% in 2018.

  • Fewer residents reported multiple hospitalizations – The percentage who said they had been admitted to a hospital more than once in the past year was cut in half, dropping from 6% in 2016 to 3% in 2018.

“These results provide evidence that regional efforts to increase access to care, reduce avoidable hospital use and improve overall health have been successful,” FDRHPO Executive Director Erika F. Flint said. “Months of planning, surveying, and analysis went into producing this report, and we are proud to offer such accurate and insightful local data to our partners.”

Another encouraging survey result shows that north country residents are spending more time walking daily. Eighty-one percent said they walk for more than 30 minutes on a typical day, an increase from 71% in 2017. Furthermore, 88% said they agree that their neighborhood is a safe place for their family to walk or bike.

Almost all (95%) of respondents said healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are at least “somewhat available” to their families, and 92% said places to exercise are also “somewhat available.”

However, 14% said they at least “sometimes” have trouble arranging transportation when they need to travel by automobile. This highlights a need for improved transportation resources – especially in rural areas of our region, where health care may not be accessible without an automobile.

Other results that indicate a need for improvement involve chronic pain and tobacco use. According to the survey, chronic pain is a common ailment for residents of our region, with 28% reporting that it has limited their ability to follow their usual routine within the past year. As for tobacco, 24% of adults in our region say they use it, and 15% say they use it every day.

“We recognize that there is always room to improve and make our community healthier, and this data is the first step in making those improvements,” FDRHPO Data Analyst Kevin V. Contino said. “With detailed results like these, we are able to direct our efforts at the health issues and patient groups that need the most help.”

“Overall, we are pleased with the results of this year’s survey,” Mr. Contino added. “We see many areas of improvement, which suggests that residents of our region are feeling empowered to make healthy decisions.”

Survey results are used by FDRHPO and other health care stakeholders to inform community health planning and measure progress toward community health goals. Every three years, public health departments and hospitals use the data to complete health improvement plans for submission to the state Department of Health.

A complete copy of the 2018 Community Health Survey of Adult Residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties can be found on the North Country Health Compass website, at