Hospitals seeking answers from residents

Three area hospitals are teaming up to see what's on the minds of their prospective patients.

In a week, Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, Carson-Tahoe Hospital and Gardnerville-based Carson Valley Medical Center will begin a telephone survey assessing health care needs in Douglas County.

Beginning Monday, a marketing research firm will make calls in the area to complete 400 surveys for the Healthy Community Initiative for Douglas County. The Douglas County Commission recently kicked in $2,000 for the $22,500 survey. The medical facilities will pay the remainder.

"It's intended to identify health needs with the backup material in order for any health care institution to focus on what's needed," Barton spokeswoman Linda Thompson said, stressing the importance of truthfulness in the survey.

Professional Research Consultants of Omaha, Neb., will conduct the 20-minute surveys through Aug. 24.

Officials hope the information will give them a broad view of health care needs in the region.

Thompson admitted it may be difficult to keep respondents, divided in those ages 18 to 65 and those over 66, on the phone that long.

Results of the survey are due in October, at which time community forums will be held.

Questions for this survey will range from health care access and opinions on level of care, to medical conditions and personal behavior, such as smoking and athletic pursuits.

"We may be on the same page or not. We may find out we have a high rate of diabetes," Thompson said. "And what we hear could pass on as civic policy."

Here's a sampling of the questions:

-- During the past 30 days, for about how many days have you felt very

healthy and full of energy?

-- Was there a time in the last 12 months when you needed a prescription medicine but did not get it?

-- How would you rate your satisfaction with your overall health care?

-- About how long has it been since you last visited a dentist or dental clinic?

-- Have you had two years or more in your life when you felt depressed or sad most days, even if you felt OK sometimes?


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