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KINGSBURG – When it comes to what Kingsburg residents would like to see in regards to health services, a recent survey shows they want more preventive services, more access to doctors and specialists, an urgent care/emergency facility, more affordable exercise facilities and nutrition guidance.

“Essentially, a proper hospital,” one respondent wrote answering one of the 21 questions in the survey.

Kingsburg Tri-County Health Care District’s survey results may be read online at https://bit.ly/2NNul29.

Tri-County Health Care District Board Chairman Arlie Rogers said that since the district exists to provide health care, the board wanted to find out what health services they needed most.

“We wanted to know what the specific and pressing needs of residents were in our district so that hopefully, we could address them directly and not provide services that wouldn’t be used or desired,” he said.

An invitation to participate in the survey was mailed out to all residences within the district earlier this year and was conducted through Survey Monkey from March through May 31.

The goal was to get input on how to best meet residents’ health care needs with the estimated $715,000 in tax funds the board receives from property taxes annually. The district also launched its website at the same time so residents could participate online. Paper copies were also made available at its office at 1425 Marion St.

A total of 193 responded to the survey. There were basic questions regarding respondents’ overall health, age range, education level, race and sex. Other questions delved into their individual health challenges and where residents sought routine and emergency medical care.

When asked what is needed to improve theirs and their family’s health, 90 of the 187 respondents said Kingsburg needed more recreation facilities. Healthier food was the second-highest response with free or affordable health screenings and safe places to walk or play both garnering 60 replies each.

Another question addressed needed health screenings and services. Respondents say routine checkups are most needed with blood pressure ranking second and exercise/physical activity ranking third.

One question revealed that while most people still get their health information from their doctor or health care provider (152 out of 193 replies), many are turning to internet resources (137 out of 193 replies) or to their family and friends (74 out of 193 replies).

When asked for more responses about meeting health needs, survey takers repeatedly mentioned the need for physical recreation for seniors, adults and teens, more mental health services and drug and alcohol prevention programs.

Respondents also chimed in regarding the need for more hospital facilities and around-the-clock emergency services in town, as most must drive to Fresno or farther for routine and specialized health care.

“Offer services that used to be handled through Kingsburg District Hospital,” one respondent wrote.

While many respondents would like for a regular hospital to be available in town, the cost to do so would likely be cost prohibitive, Rogers said.

“The health care landscape has been changing over the last few decades. Unfortunately, the small, rural hospital hasn’t been financially feasible in some time. Blame it on rising health care costs, or on how people access care, or any number of other factors, we can’t point to one, singular factor. What we do know is that most of the districts that are similar in size to ours had to close their hospitals down due to financial insolvency.”

Rogers said he especially noticed the amount of comments regarding the need for an urgent care facility and said there are talks underway with two health care providers, “with the hopes of opening an extended-hours urgent care clinic here in town.”

The district was aware that the Kingsburg Fire Department was in need of an upgraded ambulances and more advanced cots to move patients. In October 2017, a $250,000 grant was given to the fire department to meet those needs.

“The district was able to provide grant money to several local entities with broad reaching services to our district,” Rogers said of funding provided to the Police Department to outfit the officers and patrol vehicles with first-aid equipment.

“We [also] funded the Fire Department so they could upgrade the existing ambulances to make assist and recovery safer and more expedient for first responders; we provided funding to the city to install health and exercise equipment to be used by the public at a local park; we provided funding to pay for the cost of behavioral health services that KCAPS provides at its store; and we provided funding to the Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers organization to help them expand their services to those struggling with cancer.”

The most recent grants totaled $732,000 and included:

  • Athwal Park: $600,000 to build a skate park, fitness equipment, play structures, splash pad and bike racks. The city of Kingsburg will be given $200,000 over the next three years for this project.
  • Kingsburg Fire Department: $126,505 for ambulance equipment upgrades.
  • Kingsburg Police Department: $6,000 for first-aid and live-saving supplies.

Local nonprofits that would like to apply for future grants, may consider their policy requirements at https://www.kthd.org/grant-policy-and-application.

“The district is really excited to be in a position to once again be able to provide health care services to our residents and we will continue to listen to the residents so that we can best serve them,” Rogers said.

The board will consider funding for free clinics, diagnostic and testing centers, health education programs, wellness and prevention programs, rehabilitation, aftercare and any other health care services provider, groups and organizations, which are necessary for the maintenance of good physical and mental health in the communities served by the district.

They will also consider helping in the operation of health facilities and services such as outpatient programs, retirement programs, chemical dependency programs, or programs that benefit people served by the district.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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