Medical center gathers information on community health needs

The Madison Valley Medical Center has sent out about 800 surveys to residents in the Madison Valley as the first step in developing a long-term strategic plan.

The survey is part of a community needs assessment, which is something the medical center is required to do every three years.

The survey is geared toward assessing the citizen’s attitude about the general health of the community and the health services provided, said Loren Jacobson, CEO at the Madison Valley Medical Center.

“The real emphasis to the questionnaire is around medical services,” Jacobson said. “We want to get folks’ honest input. The more people who participate, the better our planning process.”

A community needs assessment is required by Medicare for rural critical access hospitals, he said.

Along with the survey, the medical center is also hosting two focus group discussions. One was held Tuesday. The second will be held Thursday at 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the medical center conference room. The public is invited and encouraged to attend, Jacobson said.

The survey is being administered by the Montana Office of Rural Health in Bozeman and was funded by a federal grant.

The survey is an important tool for gauging community opinion about health and medical services, said Natalie Claiborne, assistant director with the Montana Office of Rural Health in Bozeman.

“They allow communities to give open and honest feedback to the facility about how things are going,” Claiborne said.

Claiborne will also be facilitating the focus group meetings as well.

The information collected in the survey will be used to develop the community needs assessment, which will be incorporated into the medical center’s long term strategic plan, Jacobson said. This plan is a crucial component of planning for the future.

“Any successful business, hospitals included, should have a long-term strategic plan,” he said.

Once developed, the plan will be used to guide growth at the medical center as well as evaluate performance.

“Any good long-term strategic plan is not created once and then set on a shelf,” Jacobson said.

The goal of the survey is not only to ascertain opinion about existing services, but to identify what other medical services are needed in the community, he said.

Claiborne will start assessing information from the surveys in mid-November, she said. The goal is to get a 30 percent response.

“We want to make sure we get the best sample and representation of the community we can,” Claiborne said.

The long-term strategic plan for the medical center should be finished by next spring, Jacobson said.

For more information on the survey, call Claiborne at 994-6001. For information on the strategic planning process, call Jacobson at the medical center, 682-6862.

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