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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Survey: Residents Desire Better Health Care Access

Posted January 13, 2016

By Rochelle Moore, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

Finding the right doctor, having access to primary care and opportunities for physical activity are some of the needed improvements identified in Wilson County.

The health and wellness team of Wilson 20/20’s Beyond 21 planning process surveyed 379 people about area health needs, barriers to care and resources used for behavioral health care.

What they found is that Wilson-area residents want improved access to health care, access to physical activity resources, increased use of behavioral health care resources and educational resources to make better health decisions.

“The survey was conducted in venues where we felt like those who would not have access to adequate health care would frequent,” said Teresa Ellen, Wilson County health director and co-chair of Beyond 21’s health and wellness group.

“Some of (the) places include DSS, the Health Department, the library, the hospital emergency room, Barton College, the Wesley Shelter and at the health fair in October.”

Plans are in the works to improve the areas identified by the public, with some inroads already made. The county health department recently added a primary care doctor, Dr. Craig Simpson, and Wilson Medical Center recently added primary care practices in Wilson and Stantonsburg.

“Wilson New Hope Primary Care continues to grow, and we are recruiting more physicians to increase access for the community,” said Lisa Briley, Wilson Medical Center director of marketing and recruiting.

Ellen said the health department is also better able to serve the community, especially the uninsured and underinsured.

“Adding a primary care physician to our staff will increase access to health care for the uninsured and underinsured,” Ellen said.

The health and wellness group is one of six currently working on Wilson 20/20’s Beyond 21 plan, a year long project that will be presented to the community in May. The Beyond 21 plan is an outgrowth of the 2014 Youth Master Plan, which received overwhelming support and participation from nearly every sector of the community. Beyond 21 takes the process further and focuses on the needs of adults age 21 and older.

The six groups currently working on Beyond 21 include community leadership and civic engagement, health and wellness, talent retention and attraction, elderly and aging, underemployment and unemployment, and entrepreneurship.

The health and wellness team is co-chaired by Ellen and Paula Furiness, Wilson Medical Center’s wellness coordinator.

“Cooperation, sharing ideas and expertise and a strong desire to improve the health and well-being of the citizens in the Wilson community have enhanced and molded the planning stages of the health and wellness team’s work,” Furiness said. “The health and wellness plan will include objectives and courses of action developed in part from evidence-based findings and recommendations.”

The development of the health and wellness plan includes participation and involvement from the health department, hospital, Social Services, Barton College, city of Wilson, Eastpointe, Wilson YMCA, Area L AHEC, Wesley Shelter and the Wilson County Substance Abuse Coalition.

In addition to working on improving access to health care, the team plans to offer quarterly educational events that help area residents make better health care decisions. The group will work with churches, faith organizations and community centers to determine the best locations for the events.

Also planned are community campaigns that promote physical activity and the development of physical activity resources. Survey respondents said they want to see greater access to bike paths and walking trails, and there are plans to promote Wilson’s existing park and trail system. Future plans include seeking grants to expand area bike and pedestrian paths, Furiness said.

The Beyond 21 plan is planned to be unveiled by Wilson 20/20 this year.

“We have identified some very exciting ideas and some potential resources to support the goals and objectives of the health and wellness team,” said Paula Benson, Wilson 20/20 executive director. “As team members, we have realized how many programs and services are already available within our community, and with the development of this plan, we hope we are able to offer a comprehensive and accessible resource guide for all members of our community.

“We look forward to the introduction of our Beyond 21 plan to the community on May 14 of this year.”

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