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First-of-its-kind community health survey for 5-county area seeks volunteers

Independent Record - 4/29/2024

Apr. 28—Several agencies are overseeing what they say is a first-of-its-kind community health survey in an area that spans Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, Powell, Broadwater and Meagher counties.

And volunteers are needed to help.

Scheduled for late June, the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response — or CASPER — survey will be in neighborhoods around the five-county area, according to Lewis and Clark Public Health Officer Drenda Niemann.

Niemann said it's meant to provide a snapshot of communities on several health conditions, behaviors and social determinants of health, including cancer, heart disease, substance use, mental health, housing, child care, food security and more.

Agencies participating include Lewis and Clark Public Health officials, in collaboration with PureView Health Center, St. Peter's Health, United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area, Rocky Mountain Development Council, and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

According to United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area Executive Director Emily McVey, 30 two-member survey teams will visit neighborhoods, going door to door and locating seven respondent households within each census block. McVey said team members will wear bright vests and carry identification cards.

Visit https://form.jotform.com/Clark_Lewis/CasperVolunteerSurvey2024 to fill out a volunteer application form. The deadline to apply is June 17.

Survey results will be included in the 2024 Community Health Report, published by the Healthy Together Steering Committee every three years.

County residents interested in community health work are encouraged to apply, McVey said.

Formalized in 2017, the Healthy Together Steering Committee is an ongoing partnership among agencies in Lewis and Clark County that are concerned with improving population health.

That report will then form the basis for the Community Health Improvement Plan, which will be developed and released in 2025 and help determine public health priorities to improve health outcomes for residents of the county.

Niemann, who is overseeing the local work, said among its many benefits, the CASPER survey allows local, state and federal agencies — both government and nonprofit — to connect with residents and hear firsthand their thoughts about the overall health of the community.

The door-to-door survey will be 2:30-7:30 p.m.June 25 in Lewis and Clark County — with team visits in Helena, Lincoln, Augusta and the surrounding areas. Survey team members will include a volunteer pool of college students and athletes, community health workers, civic groups, hospital, clinic and public health employees, state public health personnel and concerned residents.

They will not be collecting any personal information and will only do the work during the daytime, no later than 7:30 p.m.

The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete at the resident's doorstep, after which they will be entered to win a $500Visa gift card.

The CASPER Survey is a quick and reliable series of questions that provide leaders with household-based information about a community, strengthening the county's public health response and resilience.

Those with questions about the CASPER survey should email publichealth@lccountymt.gov. If you are interested in volunteering, call Lewis and Clark Public Health Prevention Program Supervisor Julie Bir at 406-457-8979 or email her at jbir@lccountymt.gov.

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(c)2024 the Independent Record (Helena, Mont.)

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