Public input encouraged for online health assessment

By: By T.C. Hunter - [email protected]
Bill Smith

LUMBERTON — Robeson County residents can help map local health quality and needs by providing input for a community health assessment online.

Data collection for the state-required community health assessment is being performed locally. Residents can access and submit responses by going online to The link also can be found on health agency websites.

The community health assessment stems from a state requirement that all health departments develop and submit a diagnosis of their community every four years, said Bill Smith, director of the Robeson County Health Department. A few years ago, nonprofit hospitals were required to develop one every three years. Because Southeastern Health and the county Health Department had worked on the assessments collaboratively for years, it was decided to do one every three years. This meets both entities’ requirements.

“In essence this is a map of where we are and where we are heading as it comes to population health,” Smith said. “By utilizing the public, we can compare data with the perceptions of what the community feels are the issues. In this manner, drug use was identified much sooner locally than it was nationally. Ideally, efforts would then be directed towards those issues — dependent upon funding.”

The community health assessment data collection comes only weeks after the release of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 2017 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report for all 100 North Carolina counties. Robeson County was scored as the worst county in North Carolina in terms of quality of health.

The North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors has called for an end to the report, saying the way the data is collected is flawed and misleading.

Smith agrees, saying a county moving up or down some 20 positions from one year to the next underscores the fact that the data is not accurate.

“I don’t really think it is valuable as it doesn’t take into account the efforts being made,” Smith said. “For instance, one national article noted that many health departments have quit working on tobacco control and started working on teen suicide prevention efforts.”

Bill Smith Smith

By T.C. Hunter

[email protected]

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.