Dane County health organizations want your input on how to improve health inequities

MADISON, Wis. — As we come out of a tumultuous pandemic year, the Healthy Dane Collaborative is seeking community input on the state of health in Dane County.

The Collaborative is made up of a number of health organizations including Public Health Madison and Dane County, UnityPoint Health-Meriter, SSM Health, Stoughton Health and UW Health. The organizations are asking community members to fill out an online survey that they will use to develop solutions to health issues that the communities feel are top priorities.

Public Health Madison and Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said, “There is no better time than now because we are coming out of this very critical moment of the pandemic.”

Heinrich said a number of social factors have an impact on the state of health, many of which were amplified during the pandemic including ones’ employment status, housing status, quality of food, transportation, education, and so forth.

UW Health’s Program Manager of Community Health Improvement Adrian Jones said access to proper healthcare is one of the main things that needs to be improved, specifically when it comes to mental health.

“I think given that so many of us have been under quarantine, different living situations and whatnot, mental health has really risen to the top,” Jones said.

SSM Health’s Regional Director of Community Health David Pluymers believes the pandemic exacerbated the inequities in the healthcare system.

Pluymers said, “When we start to look at the data and break it apart by race and ethnicity, we do see racial health disparities.”

Pluymers echoed the need for improved access to healthcare in marginalized or underserved communities.

“One’s zip code often has more of an influence on health than their genetic code,” he said.

The survey is confidential and anonymous. It’s available in English, Spanish and Hmong and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

“It could identify new things to do within current programs, new partnerships we might want to engage with, funding streams that we might need to pursue or resources that need to come into the community,” Heinrich said. “We are always trying to do better.”

The survey is available online until the end of June. The health organizations will take the information from the collected surveys and come up with a plan and implementation strategy to provide long-term solutions.

“The ideal state is where we are minimizing disease, we are creating equal access to care for everyone but with more of a prevention focus,:” Pluymers said. “We’re keeping people healthy rather than treating them when they become ill.”

You can fill out the survey online here.