Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics and a group of collaborating area health care organizations recently conducted a series of focus groups to help assess any health concerns or health care needs, including one in Boscobel earlier this month. The assessment explored current health issues, resources and trends in Grant and Crawford counties and will result in collaborative efforts to address pressing health concerns.
Boscobel’s focus group was held at the hospital and was conducted by Jane Schaaf, the Family Living Agent with Crawford County UW-Extension. She is collaborating with Grant and Crawford County health departments.
“This is a collaboration between hospitals in Boscobel, Lancaster and Prairie du Chien, as well as the health departments in Grant and Crawford counties,” Schaaf explained. “They are using the information to determine area health care needs. They know many of those needs based on the numerical data they have, but that’s just part of the equation. These discussion groups are adding just a little more information.”
Even though only four people showed up for the discussion, many suggestions were offered during the hour-long process.
All the discussion groups answered the same six questions:
• What is good health?
• Are health care needs mostly being addressed?
• Are health care needs somewhat being addressed?
• What environmental factors affect health?
• Where is the first place you go for health information?
• How do you support good health?
When asked what constitutes good health people responded with answers like disease prevention, an active lifestyle and proper nutrition.
“Obviously, good care,” said Sandy Schwab. “We’re all going to get ill and being able to access a facility close to you is very important.”
Other responses included good emotional balance, happiness and knowing when your body needs care.
“One person told me being in good health is when you wake up every day and you know who you are,” said Schaaf.
Schaaf said that 43 percent of previous respondents had felt that most health care needs in the area were being addressed.
The Boscobel focus group generally agreed that Gundersen Boscobel Hospital was addressing most health care needs, pointing out positives with urgent care and the personal relationships patients have with medical providers here.
“They care about you personally,” said Denise Fisher, RN.
“I think this facility is really neat and tidy; it’s a very friendly place,” added Schwab. “You always get a smile. There’s always a friendly place here.”
Schaaf said that 11 percent of respondents said that their health care needs were only somewhat being addressed.
Perceived needs brought up by the Boscobel focus group included eye care, like the recently departed Davis Duehr Dean Eye Care Clinic, a dietician, and pediatricians.
“I think we lose our patients because of the lack of birthing,” said Fisher, who used to work at the facility. “We lose patients to pediatricians and they never come back.”
Other needs included a chemo/radiation unit, a mental health unit, physician retention and rescue squad manpower.
Schaaf said 83 percent of respondents cited a culture of unhealthy eating as the number one environmental factor affecting health. Causes for that identified by the Boscobel group included eating on the go, restaurant fare that often includes large, fried portions, processed foods and a lack of quality fruits and vegetables.
As far as supporting good health, the group suggested the hospital partner with the schools on health education, workshops, increased advertising and its on-line presence, and continuing to be seen in the community.
Final thoughts as the hour wrapped up were generally positive.
“I just think it’s a real bonus to have the hospital here,” said Schwab. If you look at other communities our size, they don’t have one. We are blessed to have this facility in Boscobel.”
“They have a great group of people here in Boscobel; I would come here for anything,” Fisher added.
The focus groups started in mid-October in places like Prairie du Chien, Seneca, Wauzeka and Marquette, Iowa. Most recently they were held in Boscobel, Muscoda and Fennimore.
“It’s been very interesting to see the differences and similarities in other communities,” Schaaf said.
Schaaf and her colleagues will now compile their data and present it back to the respective health care providers for possible future action.