Charlestown Community Health Assessment Online Survey Now Available

February 23, 2015
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Charlestown residents will have their say about the community’s overall health by completing a Quality of Life survey beginning this week.

 The survey can be taken online or in paper form and is a continuation of the larger Community Health Needs Assessment done in 2012, which featured numerous meetings and charities and surveys.

“We do this comprehensively so we can make sure of hear everyone’s voice in the community and to continue conversations about health in a meaningful way,” said Leslie Aldrich of MGH. “We will use this data from the survey and from a few public meetings with public health data to see if we have our finger on the pulse of the community and are concentrating on the right issues.”

She said they will likely schedule public meetings in Charlestown for the project in late spring and early fall. It is required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and must be completed by Sept. 30.

The current survey is available online at MGH Center for Community Health Improvement. The survey is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. Paper copies of the survey are available at many community-based organizations such as the Charlestown Community Center, the MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center and the Boston Public Library branch in Charlestown.

The Quality of Life survey is part of the community-wide assessment of health concerns in Charlestown underway by Mass General and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospitals. The survey follows a 2012 Charlestown Community Health Needs Assessment. The assessment identified, by a significant margin, substance use disorders and their effects on quality of life, including perceptions of violence and public safety, as the community’s top issue. In addition, the community identified cancer prevention/healthy living, access to care (with an emphasis on helping families who have youth with autism) and the promotion of educational attainment as additional priorities.

To help address these issues, the Charlestown Family Support Circle initiative and the Building a Healthier Charlestown grant program were launched last year. The Charlestown Family Support Circle identifies and intervenes with at-risk adolescents and their families and improves the connection among Charlestown service providers to support local individuals and families. To date, Clinical Social Worker Phenice Zawatsky has connected families to the services that will help them thrive at home and in their communities without any gaps in services.

The overall purpose of Building a Healthier Charlestown is to improve the health of the Charlestown community by building the capacity of, and fostering collaboration between, community-based organizations to use evidence-based approaches to address the prioritiesidentified in the health improvement plan. MGH and Spaulding are investing financial and technical resources to aid in this effort, and recently distributed funds to two Charlestown collaboratives to address other priorities:

  • The John F. Kennedy Family Service Center partners with the Charlestown YMCA, Cancer Prevention Awareness and Education and Whole Foods Market to support the Healthier Living Through Good Food and Exercise in collaboration with Kids Cooking Green. Children ages 5-8 at the Kennedy Center and ages 8-12 at Harvard Kent Elementary are now offered exercise classes after school or are engaged in hands–on nutrition and cooking classes to teach kids that healthy eating is not only tasty, but fun too.
  • To promote a culture of life-long learning in Charlestown, the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) expanded its BHA Charlestown Adult Education Program (CAEP) program to reach more residents in more locations. As a result, 15 students seeking to earn their high school equivalency have passed or are in the process of completing their HiSet Certification, and 14 students are enrolled in the Family Literacy class.

MGH also is conducting health assessments in Revere and Chelsea. The goal of the health assessment is to produce a comprehensive picture of each community’s overall health so that individuals and groups can work together to better  meet the health care needs of the community.