Western helps develop assessment of Jackson Co. health needs

CULLOWHEE – A collaborative effort involving Western Carolina University faculty, staff and students, along with Jackson County health officials, has resulted in a comprehensive examination of the state of health care in Jackson County.

A community health survey was conducted by Western’s College of Business, Office of Health Services, Office of University Planning, and Division of Information Technology Services on behalf of the Jackson County Department of Public Health.

Findings in the report are the result of answers to a 77-part questionnaire developed by a committee made up of health care agencies, hospitals, schools, churches, county government, media and law enforcement; a survey of youth risk behavior; an asthma screening test administered to 370 school children; and nutritional assessment and body mass index testing for all children in one county elementary school.

“The project originated as a request in the form of ‘can you help us’ from one of my friends in the Jackson County Health Department,” said Debasish Banerjee, associate dean of the College of Business. “They needed varying degrees of help in the design of the questionnaire, Web hosting of the questionnaire, recording of data and data analysis.”

Staff members from Information Technology Services, University Planning, and Health Services, and faculty and students in the College of Business pooled resources to create a snapshot of existing health care conditions in Jackson County.

“The assessment report will help Jackson County administration assess the success or failure of on-going programs, and will help design new programs,” Banerjee said. “The project is another example of Western’s efforts to become ‘engaged’ with our community by helping meet needs and solve problems.”