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FDRHPO Releases 2020 Community Health Survey Findings

October 14, 2020   10:30 a.m.
    Press Release from Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization:


    COVID-19 impact reflected in many results

    Watertown, New York ----- The 2020 Community Health Survey of adult residents
    in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties findings report is now available.
    This survey has been completed every year since 2016 with the intent to support
    and plan future initiatives, monitor changes within the community, as well as raise
    community awareness through the process of surveying. The sample size in the
    2020 survey was 2,436, resulting in an average margin of error of ±2.5%.

    “It is important to note that this survey was conducted in June of 2020, while the
    region was still under restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains
    Megan Donato, FDRHPO Data Analyst. “While the extent cannot be directly
    measured, the effects of the pandemic certainly contributed to differences in the
    findings. This was to be expected, as the pandemic took its toll on many factors
    that influence an individual’s health.”

    Measures that were not expected to be impacted by COVID-19 include the
    percentage of those who have a primary care provider and the safety of one’s
    neighborhood, neither of which differed from previous findings. However,
    measures relating to self-reported physical and mental health, emergency room
    visits, and access to exercise opportunities all decreased in 2020.

    Below is a summary of some of the findings. The results for all survey questions,
    as well as much more detailed findings can be found in the full report by visiting

    Experiences with Health Services

  • Four out of five (81%) North Country residents in 2020 have one person or
    medical office that they think of as their personal doctor or health care
    provider.  This rate has not significantly changed between 2016 and 2020.
  • Use of telemedicine – With almost one-third (29%) of North Country
    residents saying that they have participated in a telemedicine visit, and
    nearly one-half (48%) of North Country residents indicate that if given the
    option to see a healthcare provider for a routine or follow-up appointment
    using telemedicine, they are likely to choose telemedicine in place of an in-
    person office visit. (Note: This increase is also reflected in FDRHPO’s and
    its partners’ 2020 telemedicine encounters. In 2019, those encounters
    totaled 4.761 for the entire year. As of June 30, 2020, total encounters were
  • Potential barriers to telemedicine – Seven potential barriers to one choosing
    to use telemedicine were studied in 2020.
  • “Quality of care in telemedicine” – 68% responded major or minor
  • “Technical problems connecting” – 53%
  • “Concerns with insurance coverage” – 51%
  • “Security and privacy” – 49%
  • Less than 40% of participants reported each of the following three
    items as barriers: “access to reliable Internet service” (37%), “doctor
    does not offer telemedicine” (34%), and “lack of access to a
    smartphone, computer, or tablet” (32%).

    Personal Health

  • Almost eight-in-ten (79%) North Country residents in 2020 agree with the
    statement "I am actively working to improve my health" (a decrease from
    91% in 2016).
  • 42% of North Country residents in 2020 continue to be somewhat optimistic
    about their personal physical health (a decrease from 50% in 2018).
  • 53% of North Country residents continue to be optimistic in 2020 about their
    personal mental health (a decrease from 60% in 2018).
  • While three-fourths (75%) of adults in the North Country still report having
    been to their primary care doctor's office at least one in the past 12 months,
    including both routine check-ups and occasions when they were ill, only
    16% report having received care at an emergency room at least once in the
    past 12 months, and 7% report having been admitted to a hospital at least
    once in the past 12 months.  Both values are at an all-time low, falling from
    highs in 2016 of 30% and 15% respectively.
  • The rate of alcohol consumption has increased in 2020 from earlier rates
    found. Approximately four-fifths (80%) of adults in 2020 indicate that they
    drink alcohol. Approximately 61% of adults currently indicate that they drink
    alcohol at least 1-2 times per month or more (an increase from 52% in 2019).
  • The 2020 findings on tobacco use are mixed.  Approximately one-fifth (19%)
    of adults in the North Country in 2020 describe their cigarette use status in
    2020 as “current users,” and 14% indicate “every day” cigarette use (an
    increase from 10% in 2019). However, current use of smokeless tobacco
    and current use of e-cigarettes has declined since 2019.  Only 4% of
    respondents report currently using smokeless tobacco, either some days or
    every day, down from 7% in 2019.  Current use of e-cigarettes has fallen to
    4% from 9% in 2019.

    Current Lifestyle

  • 86% of North Country residents indicate satisfaction with the availability of
    their family's access to places where they can walk and exercise, either
    indoors or outdoors , and 91% are satisfied with the availability of their
    family's access to healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables (91%
    reporting “at least somewhat available” in the North Country).  For access to
    exercise opportunities, the rate of indicating access as “very available” fell
    from 65% in 2018 to 55% in 2020.  For access to healthy foods, the rate of
    indicating access as “very available” fell from a high of 76% in 2019 to 63%
    in 2020.


  • North Country residents in 2020 are very interested in obtaining testing for
    COVID-19. More than seven-in-ten adults (71%) are interested in being
    tested with the COVID-19 antibody test to determine if infected in the past.
    More than one-half of adults (57%) are interested in being tested with the
    COVID-19 viral test to determine if currently infected.
  • The majority of North Country residents plan to continue practicing healthy
    behaviors recommended to reduce transmission of COVID-19 including
    frequent hand-washing for 20 seconds or more (89%), wearing a mask in
    public (74%), social distancing (73%), limiting in store shopping (61%), and
    limiting social gatherings (61%).  While the level of engagement in these
    recommended behaviors varies, only 6% are not planning to continue any of
    these behaviors.

    “Results of this survey are key to community health planning and to measuring
    progress toward community health goals,” concludes Ms. Donato. “FDRHPO and
    other healthcare stakeholders use this data to develop actionable items that
    target the North Country’s specific healthcare needs.”

    Questions and comments can be directed here.

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    About Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO)

    FDRHPO works to strengthen the system for health for the integrated Fort Drum
    and civilian community through analysis, identification of needs and leveraging
    of resources to fill gaps through innovation and collaboration. For more about
    FDRHPO, visit .