Survey Seeks Claremont Health Data

Claremont — A community health survey targeting area residents is aimed at providing information not only on the health and health care needs of residents but also the effect of Valley Regional Hospital being excluded for coverage by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield under the Affordable Care Act.

“The initial reason (for the survey) was what caught our attention,” said Margaret Brown, senior project coordinator for the ReThink Health Survey. “We saw this as an opportunity to learn how many this affects.”

Brown is with the Dartmouth Institute, which is conducting the survey in partnership with Valley Regional Hospital.

Though the exclusion of VRH from the network of hospitals covered by Anthem triggered the idea of the survey, Brown said the data will have a broader application.

“It (the survey) can tell us how this decision affects residents in this way,” Brown said.

Among the impacts are having to drive farther for primary care, deciding against care because of the distance or having to chose a less preferred option for care, Brown said.

Peter Wright, CEO and President of Valley Regional, said last week they will be looking at the data not only for current information on the community’s health care needs but also how well the hospital is responding to those needs.

“What is the baseline of health in the community, what are the barriers to accessing care and as we address those barriers, are we making progress,” Wright said.

“The goal is to develop a comprehensive analysis of the health and health needs of Claremont residents,” the Dartmouth Institute said in a news release.

The survey is being administered through several channels until September. For those without home access to a computer, Brown recommends the Fiske Libary. On Thursday, Valley Regional will have computers available for anyone wishing to take the survey and on Aug. 12 the Claremont Senior Center on Maple Avenue will also have computers available all day for the survey.

The survey asks a variety of personal health questions but also addresses the issue of access by inquiring where residents go for dental, primary and mental health services.

Not only will the data be used by the health care community but Brown said other agencies such as Southwest Community Services and the Claremont Soup Kitchen can use the information to help determine what additional services they may be able to provide. It can also help identify potential funding sources, she said. The data will be presented at a community meeting this fall in an aggregate form but individual responses will be kept confidential.