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Citizen input in area counties will help St. Mary’s plan community benefits efforts

St. Mary’s and the University of Georgia are now gathering information for the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). To get input from area residents, focus groups will be held in the following communities in February. Groups are free and open to anyone who lives or works in the county or nearby:

  • Elbert County: Completed Feb. 6.
  • Walton County: Completed Feb. 7.
  • Madison County: Completed Feb. 11.
  • Morgan County: Completed Feb. 15.
  • Barrow County: Monday, Feb. 18, 12:30-2 p.m., Winder Public Library, 189 Bellview St., Winder.
  • Stephens County: Monday, Feb. 18, 5-6:30 p.m., Stephens County Senior Center, 55 Rose Lane Park Drive, Toccoa.
  • Banks County: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 12-1:30 p.m., Adult Learning Center, 127 Hudson Valley Drive, Homer.
  • Oglethorpe County: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 3:30-5 p.m., Oglethorpe County Library, 858 Athens Road, Lexington.
  • Jackson County: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 12-1:30 p.m., Crawford Long Museum, 28 College St., Jefferson.

The Community Health Needs Assessment is conducted every three years to get the best possible picture of the region’s health needs. St. Mary’s and other providers use the information to decide how best to allocate resources to address the community’s unmet healthcare needs.

Information is being gathered in different ways in different counties, with all counties in St. Mary’s extended service area being represented.

One of the primary methods of gathering information is through focus groups. Participants will discuss their health care needs and the issues they perceive in their community. Comments will be recorded, but all information shared will be handled as confidential, with no names or other identifying information attached. The intent is to allow participants to freely express their concerns and experiences. Light lunch or refreshments will be provided, depending upon time of day.

“St. Mary’s will develop an implementation strategy based on the top 10 health needs that the CHNA finds in the communities we serve,” said Courtney Vickery, St. Mary’s Director of Corporate Health Services, which includes community benefit. “When people participate in this focus group, they help us focus our resources so that we can do the most good for the people most in need.”

People with questions or who would like to participate are asked to register by contacting Emily Boness, 706.542.1472, or by emailing her at You can also register by texting 706.229.6266.

For information about St. Mary’s Health Care System’s CHNA process, click here.

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