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Voice your opinions about health care in the Lake County Health Survey

RONAN — Many residents of Lake County may soon be receiving a survey form in their mailbox. This survey will be sent to a random sample of homes in the next two months that will help St. Luke Community Hospital identify the health services needed in the communities. This information will be used for strategic planning, grant applications, new programs, and by community groups interested in addressing health issues.

The National Rural Health Resource Center of Duluth, Minnesota is assisting the Ronan hospital in the analysis of local community needs, use of local health care services and overall community health.

“This process was developed to help us maintain quality health care and to serve the continuing and future health care needs of our communities,” Shane Roberts, CEO at St. Luke, explains. “So, it’s really important that those who are selected, spend the 15 minutes or so that it will take to complete the survey and to return it in the self-addressed, stamped envelope, so that we can get an accurate picture of wants and the needs of our service area.”

Roberts goes on to point out that health care should be a local affair and is necessary for the good health of the entire county. He adds, “This is an opportunity for those in our service area to take responsibility for the health of our communities since effective problem-solving is the most important factor in the survival of rural health services.”

An accompanying goal of this process is to keep health care dollars within the local community. While the vast majority of health care can be provided locally, rural citizens often drive to large medical centers for care, spending money on health care and non-health care purchases that could be spent locally. It is estimated that within a typical rural community, millions of dollars of revenue is lost in this way. This revenue could be retained in the local community with stronger community- health care provider linkages.

“St. Luke has always looked for ways to be responsive to the health care needs of the area such as the recent addition of our new Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Michael Dolecki, to the medical staff,” Roberts points out. “And, this survey process will allow residents of our service area to let us know other areas that maybe we should be looking into to help meet future health care needs.”

The needs assessment surveys should be arriving in the mailboxes of a random sampling of Lake County residents beginning the final week in September. The deadline for returning the completed surveys in November 5.

“We are pleased to be able to bring some of the best community health resources in the country to St. Luke Community Healthcare in Ronan. The goal of this initiative is to assist forward-thinking rural hospitals such as St. Luke and their service communities in aligning their resources, to address their present and future health care needs in the best way possible,” said Terry Hill, Executive Director of the National Rural Health Resource Center.

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