By Mike Journee
A Boise State University survey of Garden City’s health care needs found that inaccessible health care resources, financial hardship and a lack of insurance are the largest barriers to adequate resident health care in the community.
The community health needs assessment, conducted by Boise State School of Nursing students in conjunction with the Garden City Community Clinic (GCCC), is part of a GCCC effort to assess the health needs of the Garden City community in order to provide data that will help inform and direct the development of the GCCC.
The survey results and recommendations were presented to GCCC advisory committee and other community health care stakeholders, including consumers and providers, in a presentation today at the city hall in Garden City.
“We recognize that sustainable solutions require community engagement, so before we determine what the community needs, we decided we should ask,” said Hillary Roethlisberger, director of local operations at GCCC, which is operated by Genesis World Mission. GCCC provides medical services to low-income and uninsured patients by utilizing the volunteer work of health care professionals. “We will use this information to decide what programs to develop and how to do it so that we can continue to provide some of our hardest working residents – the working poor – with the care they need to continue to work.”
Working under the guidance of Nursing Professor Cindy Clark, eight nursing students in a senior-level nursing leadership class developed eight questions about community health care needs, accessibility, concerns and assets. More than 50 health care consumers, providers and other stakeholders in Garden City responded to the questions.
Among the findings, the barriers Garden City residents face in getting the health care they need include limited access (including short clinic hours, unavailable services, a difficult/complicated process to access assistance, and transportation), financial hardships due to unemployment or underemployment, and a lack of insurance. Respondents felt that most problems related to health care access could be overcome through expanded services, including home health and outpatient services, expanded acute medical services, community partnerships, expanded mental health services and increased preventive care education. Survey participants said Garden City’s greatest assets for promoting good health included non-profit organizations like GCCC and the Boys & Girls Club, the Greenbelt and the Ada County Fairgrounds, and community organization and networking.
Based upon the data gathered in the survey, the students also developed a series of recommendations for GCCC and the community to address the concerns highlighted in the survey, including:
■Deepening partnerships with other agencies and service providers to inform the public about health care services and their locations, including the development of classes on various health care topics
■Expansion of services, including care for chronic conditions, dental, mental health, substance abuse, and preventive care and education
■Improvement of community access to health information, including federal health care reform, through promotions, community engagement, language options, Internet access and health fairs
■Changes in GCCC’s patient criteria to allow those with insurance, but not an adequate amount to meet their needs, to seek care at the clinic
“These students met with everyone from the mayor to the homeless to ask them about their perspective on health care in the community,” said Clark, who also is a member of the GCCC advisory committee. “It is a really cool experience for these students to collect valuable information for the community and provide some guidance on how health care will be delivered. The community and the clinic are looking to our students for guidance.”
The semester-long assessment is part of an ongoing partnership between Clark, students in her nursing leadership classes and the clinic. Next spring, another class of Clark’s will work with GCCC to implement one or more of the recommendations from this paper.