Health Works' program started
A community health assessment process called the “Rural Health Works" is being conducted in Idaho County through funding made available by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Office of Rural Health. By invitation from Idaho County, 47 attendees from Riggins, Cottonwood, Kooskia, and Grangeville were present. Business, education, law enforcement, health care, government, agriculture and citizen leaders were represented.
At the first of a series of four meetings, County Commissioner Jim Rehder welcomed the group and introduced Gerald Doeksen and Val Schott from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. They discussed the national trends in health care and illustrated the economic impact of health services on the economy of Idaho County.
Initial figures indicate that more than 10% of Idaho County’s employed residents work in a health related field, making it the third largest non-farm, private “industry” in the county. Nearly 700 Idaho County residents are directly employed in the health care field earning $28 million in personal income from the industry. An additional 250 residents are indirectly impacted, resulting in a further $6.8 million in income.
“For every job created in the health care sector, another 0.5 job is created in the area due to business and household spending,” said Doeksen in his presentation, “and for each dollar created by the sector, another $0.24 is generated in the county as well.”
By participating in the Rural Health Works program, Idaho County will benefit from four outcomes-- a health services directory, a health survey, a data and information report and a county economic impact report. The overall goal of the program is the development of sufficient health care services, healthier rural communities and stronger economies.
The health services directory will compile all of the contact information related to health including health providers, emergency numbers, additional health services, and local government/social services into a quick reference guide that can be distributed to all community residents.
The health survey will be a telephone survey asking where residents receive their health care services, identifying additional preferred health services and recognizing the positives and negatives of the currently provided local health services - this will last about 3 minutes. The telephone survey will be conducted by members of a steering committee during the weeks of July 8 through 19 and will displayed as a ‘918’ area code please help by participating in the survey if your number is called.
The data and information report will include economic, health/behavioral, education, traffic and crime data from any and all current relevant sources.
The economic impact report will measure the total impact of the health sector which clearly illustrates the economic importance of the local health sector.
Commissioner Rehder noted “Another benefit of this process is a free feasibility study to any resident interested in starting a health care related business or service in Idaho County. I would like to see several of these studies performed for Idaho County,” he added.
“We all understand that our health care facilities provide great service and economy to our county and communities. On behalf of the Idaho County Commissioners, I would like to thank all the community leaders for their participation and leadership in this important project.”
Upcoming meeting dates are: Wednesday, July 15th at the Cottonwood City Hall from noon to 1:00 p.m.; August 4th in Cottonwood, and October 8th at the Soltman Center in Grangeville.