What’s the biggest issue in your community?

Local News

What’s the biggest problem in your community—-unemployment, obesity, drug abuse… lack of transportation? On Tuesday, health advocates in one area county launched a major effort to get residents to speak out about their biggest concerns.

Last week, 3,000 surveys went out to Blair  County residents as part of what’s called a “needs assessment.” Blair County’s three hospitals which usually compete, are helping to spearhead the project, required by the Affordable Care Act.

“In this initiative, we’re all together, we’re partners, we’re all committed, we’re focused again, on building a healthier Blair County,” said Joseph Peluso, CEO Tyrone Hospital.

Peluso, joined the CEO of Conemaugh Nason and the president of UPMC Altoona and Bedford on Monday to emphasize their support of the needs assessment.

Jerry Murray, president, UPMC Altoona & UPMC Bedford said, “I think first of all it’s bringing awareness to the county and to the residents and when that happens, you can begin to focus on specific initiatives to try and implement or deploy.”

Those initiatives include efforts to tackle obesity in Blair County, which in 2010 was ranked as the 63rd healthiest county among the  67 in the state. Since then, efforts to draw attention to health and wellness are given some of the credit for raising that ranking to 45th this year.

“When we all began this project we knew that it was going to take a while and that we all had to work collectively and we all had to keep plugging away,” said Coleen Heim, Executive Director, Healthy Blair County Coalition

And Tim Harclerode, CEO, Conemaugh Nason Hospital added, “It’s about getting out and educating the population and engaging the population to get in tune with those healthy lifestyles, “

If you live in Blair County and are interested in completing a survey, you can get one from area community service organizations and other groups, or fill one out online.

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