Setting goals for better community health, groups gather to talk Community Health Assessment

Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas, left, and consultant Eliza Coll, standing right, talk with service providers, nonprofit organizations and elected officials about the results from the latest Community Health Survey. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — Service providers, nonprofit organizations, elected officials and more community leaders got their first look at the draft Community Health Assessment Thursday.

The Graham County Health Department brought together at the Graham County General Services Building a wide array of concerned groups to review the data and offer suggestions on how to move forward on the top three priorities as defined by the participants in the Community Health Survey — access to health care, behavioral and mental health, and developing healthy lifestyles.

“So what can they do within the power of their organizations? What’s needed? Is that funding, is that additional people at the table? To really put together a few, I’d say, concrete goals,” said consultant Eliza Coll.

The survey data showed Graham County higher than the state average in a number of areas that impact physical and mental health, such as binge drinking of alcohol, driving while intoxicated, teen births, obesity and smoking.

But the data also showed positives, such as a significant drop in the number of overdose deaths over the last three years. And there were three times as many survey respondents this year than in previous years, showing the community’s desire to address health issues.

Communication about what is available in Graham and Greenlee counties was mentioned as an achievable goal, and has started in some areas. Such as the Graham County Health Department reaching out to area schools, EAC and MGRMC about mental health services, and the implementation of Supporting Wellness at Pantries for those receiving  food assistance.

However, other goals may take some time, such developing public transportation.

Coll and the Health Department will take Thursday’s suggestions and incorporate them into a final Community Health Assessment report, which will be made available to everyone.