Centre College students study Danville’s health care needs; make suggestions for the community

Published 8:42 am Monday, January 29, 2018

Healthy proposals

Several freshman Centre College students have been researching health care needs in the Danville-Boyle County population and have come up with four solutions that could benefit the community.

Dr. Sarah Berry, Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities at Centre College, introduces students who took part in the Centre Term class “Health in Danville, KY.” before they gave presentations on their research projects.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities Dr. Sarah Berry led the class “Health in Danville, KY” during the college’s intensive 3-week term earlier this month.

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Students presented their findings and discussed possible solutions to local health care issues they discovered during a public meeting at the Boyle County Public Library on Tuesday.

Berry said students were required to read the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment Report in order to determine county and local health problems from a statistical perspective.

They also heard from local and area expert health care professionals and read works from regional authors “to understand social patterns and perspectives” of the community.

The class was divided into four teams, which were assigned specific groups to survey twice — once to determine the group’s overall health literacy and ask them to answer an open-ended question about what they thought were health needs in Danville. A second survey focused on which health answers people agreed on.

In the class overview, Berry wrote the intention of this course was to help students have a more intimate knowledge of the town in which they are living while attending college, develop an understanding of social patterns and the culture of local residents, and then connect all of that with health.

The four groups came up with four proposals for improving local health:

Screen shot of an app to help local residents keep track of their medical information.

• “DanMed,” a health care resource app for Danville, was presented by Matt Hall, Skylar Hargrove, Maison Nichols and Hayden Tedford, who worked with several members from First Presbyterian Church.

Through the surveys, most people answered that a lack of physicians in Danville was the biggest health care concern.

However, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment Report, the group found there were 97.6 physicians per 100,000 people in Boyle County. The national average is nearly 88 per 100,000.

The students concluded the need for more physicians wasn’t really a concern, but residents need to have more knowledge of resources available.

Skylar Hargrove, a first-year student at Centre College, explains the group’s idea of creating a specialized app for medical information.

During the presentation, the group said they believe an app could be developed for mobile devices that’s broken down into a three tab system: services — to give users quick access of a consolidated list of local and area health care providers and clinics and their contact information and insurance accepted; payment — to enable the user to safely pay medical bills and keep co-pays and payment history on file; and “my information” — where physicians and nurses could add prescriptions and dosing instructions, as well as pre-op and post-op directions. Appointment reminders could also be sent to this app.

Following the presentation, Brent Blevins, director of the Boyle County Health Department, briefly met with the group and encouraged them to continue its development.

“It’s a great idea for an area like this. It’s small enough that maybe with the right steps, you could actually get this going.”

• “Haven CareCar” was proposed by Andrew Arnold, Kylie Cochran and Kelly Webb, who surveyed clients and administrators at Haven Care, which is a resource center for women with unplanned pregnancies.

After two surveys, students found the biggest obstacle in clients’ health care is reliable transportation, either by private vehicle or public transportation.

Andrew Arnold, a first-year student at Centre College presents his group’s proposal for helping Haven Care clients with their transportation needs.

Following their research, students suggested public bus transportation could be improved by adding signage at all bus stops and extend the hours of service from the current 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They said more people may use Dan Tran or the Bluegrass Ultra Transit service if they knew where the stops were.

Another option students suggested was to create a volunteer-based health care taxi service. 

Volunteers from Centre and some of its social services organizations, as well as volunteers from churches already associated with Haven Care could develop a system to insure clients would have a reliable mode of transportation to and from doctor appointments and to pharmacies.

• “Nutrition Literacy in the Home” was presented by Liz Graves, Will Hawkins, Jill Nofziger and KC Purvis, who surveyed a few members of Grace Presbyterian Church.

The team found that 87 percent of those surveyed underestimated the access of healthy foods in the area, including grocers and restaurants, so the team of students decided that an online database would be most beneficial for local residents, especially for young families with busy schedules.

They suggested developing a website to consolidate all the local healthy-lifestyle resources already available, which could help busy families.

Items to be included on the website could include locations of local fresh and healthy food options in restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets; nutrition information on foods; list locations and contact information for health clubs and other resources such as the Extension Office and Kentucky Proud website.

Students also said the website could be a source for organizations to post their health-related events such as cooking classes.

• “You Should Care About Cowan,” a proposal concerning nutrition labeling in Centre’s dining hall, was presented by Ali Ali, Claire Ansman, Breece Hayes and Mikalia McIntosh, who surveyed Centre College students at the school’s main dining hall. Originally the team planned to survey and work with senior citizens but because of bad weather and illness, the senior citizens weren’t able to participate.

The group said Cowan offers many different types of meals and fresh fruits and vegetables not only to students, but is also open to the public. They agreed there’s no real problem with the food choices — however, scannable barcodes placed at each food choice don’t always work, and many times don’t have the correct calorie information. 

They found 12 out of 17 bar codes scanned were incorrect.

Because most students who eat at Cowan are concerned about their health and making healthy food choices, barcodes should be improved and updated.

Other improvements that could be made at Cowan include listing healthy eating ideas on napkin holders at each table that currently showcase advertisements.

After all of the groups’ presentations, Audrey Powell, who served as the class’s community liaison, said, “It is absolutely a blessing to have the Centre students here because they bring fresh ideas. If you look at what they recommended, it’s not going to be terribly expensive and very easily accessible,” she said. “And that creativity is wonderful.”

“They have done very well. Part of them will come to fruition and make a difference,” Powell said. “I’ve worked with Centre 17 years, and out of this work always something good comes. I think they laid the foundation for the next class.”