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Oliver: Survey seeks suggestions to make county even better

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 12:07 a.m. CST

Even though McHenry County is a great place to live, it still could be better, right?

So if you’ve ever thought to yourself that something needs to be done, here’s a chance to let your voice be heard.

Those who live and work in the county are invited to take the 2014 McHenry County Healthy Community Survey.

Local health and human service organizations are seeking your opinions about the quantity and quality of services being offered in the area, with the goal of filling in the gaps.

Previous surveys in 2006 and 2010 have led to initiatives to combat obesity, improve cardiovascular health and create a 211 referral system for services.

In case you hadn’t heard, the 211 service is now available, offering a database of 400 providers.

“It will walk you through the process,” said Debra Quackenbush, community information coordinator for the McHenry County Department of Health, one of the 12 agencies involved in the survey.

So the surveys have made a difference in the past.

You can find this year’s survey online at the health department’s website at www.mcdh.info under “Healthy McHenry,” and it will be available until Feb. 15.

Participants who take the 10- to 15-minute survey will be asked about public transportation, bike and walking paths, jobs, safe neighborhoods, insurance and health issues.

The surveys are anonymous, so participants can be brutally honest. And they can skip questions if they’d prefer, Quackenbush said.

“Give us your voice,” she said. “Be as blunt as you’d like.”

Those without access to computers can call Quackenbush at 815-334-4456 to get a paper version. You also can call her if you have questions.

The findings will be presented at a community forum from 9 a.m. to noon May 21 at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake. The results of previous surveys can be found on the health department’s website.

In addition to the online and paper surveys, the initiative also includes interviews of business leaders, a community analysis and a focus group, Quackenbush said.

The goal is to provide grassroots level data that can be used to obtain grants for needed services, as well as to see where needs exist, she said. 

And in this time of doing more with less, it can offer research backed opportunities for collaboration.

“It makes more sense to work collaboratively,” Quackenbush said.

The providers behind the study are Advocate Good Shepherd and Sherman hospitals, Centegra Health System, Family Alliance, McHenry County College, McHenry County Community Foundation, McHenry County Department of Health, McHenry County Mental Health Board, Pioneer Center for Human Services, Senior Services Associates Inc., United Way of Greater McHenry County and Woodstock School District 200.

Those who live and work here are encouraged to take the survey even if they don’t use any of the services of these agencies.

The idea is to get a good picture of how to make the community even better.

“The survey is such a key piece,” Quackenbush said. “What do you need? We need to hear from you.”

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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