Johnson County preparing to door-knock as part of public health survey

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) - The Johnson County Public Health Department is starting a new study to figure out the needs of the county- doing it through a study that is normally done after large natural disasters.

They are conducting a study using the "CASPER," an acronym for Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response. A CASPER study has not been conducted in eastern Iowa since the 2008 flood. In order for it to work, the public health department needs a high-rate of participation from a number of randomly selected homes.

630 total homes from Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty have been randomly selected and notified with a postcard they were selected at random. Organizers said there are 210 homes from each of the three cities, and they need 80-percent, or 168 of those homes, to participate.

"That number is based on the [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] survey methodology and is a threshold to achieve statistically sound analysis," said James Betchel, the Public Health Systems Analyst with Johnson County Public Health. "To achieve that number we will have teams available to return to low-responding clusters in subsequent day(s) to finish data collection."

Starting Sunday, July 14, people may start to see a group of people wearing yellow vests, ID badges from the county, carrying clipboards and tablets, looking to compile health data across those three cities.

The ultimate goal of the survey is to best figure out the public health needs in the community.

"So for example, is there a particular health phenomenon that's occurring in a particular population, or within a particular part of the county or neighborhood in the county," said Dr. Nalo Johnson, Community Health Division Manager for Johnson County Public Health.

In 2015, the public health department did a similar survey online- but the staff said the numbers were not an accurate representation of the county.

"Based upon that, we knew we wanted to take a much more robust approach to this assessment," Dr. Johnson said.

So groups of student interns and volunteers will spend two weeks hitting the road across the county, looking to compile the information.

"We're going to knock on doors, hopefully, the people answer, and then we can really just gather information about what's happening in their life so that we can better serve them as a community," said Ian Buchta, an intern with Johnson County Public Health that will serve as one of the people going door-to-door.

Betchel explained how Johnson County Public Health plans to execute their goal- and it does not include randomly going through every neighborhood and stopping at every door.

"30 clusters (at the census block-level) were randomly selected in each of the 3 cities with large enough population sizes to meet the survey methodology standard (North Liberty, Coralville, Iowa City)," Betchel said. "Thus, a total of 90 clusters will be completed. Each cluster consists of 7 randomly selected households. Thus, a total of 630 households (210 in each city) were selected to participate in the HealthyJoCo survey. "

When the study is completed, staff will compile the results, without using names of the people they spoke with, to find the ways to best suit the needs of the county.

"You have the possibility to be able to provide your input and let us know what kind of community health needs exist for you personally or what you see in the community," Dr. Johnson said.

The study will go from July 14 to July 27. For more information on the program, click here.