JEFFERSON, LEWIS AND ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. (WWTI) – The 8th Annual Community Health Survey of Adult Residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties has been released for this year, according to a press release from the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization.  

“Each year the survey allows for us to gain the most updated data regarding individual experiences with healthcare in the North Country, including perspectives of their physical, dental, and behavioral health, and healthy lifestyle choices,”

Kayla Burns FDRHPO’s Population Health Coordinator

1,472 individual participants across the region were reached, resulting in an average margin of error of +/- 2.7% for regional estimates. With a total number of 13,813 individual participants since the first survey in 2016, the survey aims to determine residents’ experiences with healthcare systems in the region so decisions that are data-driven can be utilized in planning future initiatives and activities.

Survey questions are developed and updated every year by North Country Health Compass Partners, comprised of:

  • Representatives from Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence County public health departments;
  • Hospitals;
  • Healthcare facilities;
  • Behavioral health clinics; and
  • An array of community-based organizations that focus on community wellness.

Some questions remain constant from year to year, while new questions are developed each year to reflect the current needs of the community. 

“Results of the Community Health Survey are also cross tabulated across different demographics, which allows us to identify current health disparities, providing an opportunity for healthcare stakeholders to address specific needs.”

Kayla Burns FDRHPO’s Population Health Coordinator

Below are seven key findings from this year’s survey:

  1. About 84% of North Country adult residents have a person or medical office that they think of as their personal doctor or healthcare provider, which is an increase from previous years;
  2. Fewer residents feel that they and their values are ‘always’ respected when they go to the doctor with more residents this year answering, ‘most of the time’ or ‘sometimes,’ compared to previous years;
  3. 58% of North Country residents have visited a dentist or a dental clinic for a routine cleaning “within the past year,” which has decreased since the pandemic from 72% in 2018;
  4. When asked about the largest challenge in receiving local healthcare, the most common response was “long wait time,” the length of time between scheduling and the date of the appointment;
  5. 61% of North Country residents have been diagnosed with at least one of eight studied chronic health conditions — high blood pressure, obesity, mental health, pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, cancer or COPD;
  6. Mental health conditions have increased to 21% from pre- pandemic lows of 8% and 10%; and
  7. Frequent alcohol consumption — three or more times per week — has fallen to pre-pandemic levels.

The findings, when compared to pre-pandemic results, indicate that COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the regional residents’ mental and physical health.

“The findings of the Community Health Survey not only provide up-to-date information, but they also provide an opportunity for community members to engage in improving their personal health and strengthening the North County’s healthcare system, while simultaneously raising awareness,”

Kayla Burns FDRHPO’s Population Health Coordinator

This survey allows healthcare stakeholders to monitor health outcomes as the community re-engages with activities that promote health, such as:

  • Attending primary care well-visits;
  • Participating in chronic disease self-management programs;
  • Exercising;
  • Eating healthy foods; and
  • Connecting with loved ones.

A full copy of the 2023 Community Health Survey is available here.