State health agency holding forum Wed. to assess needs

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Have an opinion as to what the health needs are in this community?

You are just the ones Texas Department of State Health Services hopes will attend Wednesday's community forum to help get a better idea what East Texans need in health.

TDSHS (formerly Texas Department of Health), representing 35 East Texas counties including Hopkins, started asessing community health needs for East Texas on Feb. 23, and has slated more than a dozen community forums this week to collect information on public health, mental health, substance abuse and medical care issues.

Using an East Texas Community Heath Needs Assessment, TDSHS will then try to pinpoint ways to  improve health in the region through community education, prevention, care and treatment.

In Hopkins County, residents may participate in the community forum hosted  by the local TDSHS, the community preparedness liason for Hopkins and Franklin counties, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Medical Plaza (the new medical building at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital), 113 Airport Road. The meeting will be on the first floor; take the first door to the left.

Anyone who lives or works in the 35 counties covered in the assessment can participate by attending the forum. The counties include  Hopkins, Delta, Franklin, Lamar, Rains, Wood, Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Trinity, Tyler and Upshur.

Can't make the forum but still want to have your voice heard on health issues? You can still complete an anonymous survey in either English or Spanish online at www.dshs.state.tx.us/easttexas or by sending an e-mail to ETassess@dshs.state.tx.us. A paper survey may also be requested by calling the local health department or the toll free number, 866-47-9746. All surveys must be completed and received by April 6.

Individuals may complete a survey as well as attend forums.

Following the community forums and completion of surveys, an assessment report will be compiled based on the information received. That report should be available online at www.dshs.state.tx.us/easttexas by May 27. It will include regional, county and Zip Code-level results including a resource inventory, identification of gaps in health services, recommendations and conclusions.

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