What are the most pressing health issues in Alexandria? So far, thousands of respondents have filled out detailed anonymous surveys by the Alexandria Health Department at over 20 pop-ups outside of grocery stores, recreation centers and libraries. The survey asks about race, age, level of education, annual household income, where one goes to receive health care and what are the city’s greatest health challenges. It’s part of an effort launched in the spring by the department to create a community health assessment for the city.
“We can't just have the health department making these really crucial decisions alone. We really want public input so that we know what their priorities are,” said Health Department Planner Natalie Talis, who encouraged city residents to fill out the survey at the free health fair at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center on Saturday. “One of Alexandria's biggest health challenges is the significant difference in how health issues present themselves depending on whether you are white, black, Hispanic, what zip code you live in, what neighborhood, your age or income level, your education level, so, really, we're trying to suck out those disparities and help develop targeted programs that help people.”
The results of the survey, which closes on Oct. 28, will be discussed at a free breakfast at George Washington Middle School at 9:30 a.m. Attendees will be asked to split into groups to develop solutions to newly revealed concerns. Then, the department will spend the next several months identifying health priorities and writing a community health assessment report, which will be released in draft form to the public next June. The document is intended to be a blueprint for public officials on health-related prioritization and planning.
"Our partners in education, the business community, local non-profits, faith-based organizations and government agencies have been crucial in this community health assessment process,” said Dr. Stephen Haering, director of Alexandria Health Department. “We look forward to working with our community stakeholders on examining, prioritizing, and developing solutions for Alexandria's most pressing health challenges."
The survey can be found at livehealthynova.org.