The Community Foundation of Morgan County is seeking input from county residents via a survey to better direct the foundation’s health-related funding in the county.

The survey, conducted through support from a Lilly Endowment, will seek to gain input from the public on challenges they feel the county has in regards to quality of life in the area. CFMC Director Ed Kominowski said they will take this information and develop a five-year plan to address these issues.

“This is our first step to do a community development survey to find out what Morgan County’s needs are,” he said.

He said it is one thing for him and others in the organization to sit in a room and decide what areas need donations and increased funding, but they hope to be more proactive by listening to the public on where they feel the problem areas are.

The survey, which is available on CFMC’s website, will be available as a paper version next week in libraries and many local businesses. Kominowski said they will also be pushing the survey heavily at events leading up to the Fall Foliage Festival.

He said they are going into the survey open-minded. He’s curious as to what the results will tell him.

“I just really want to hear what everybody has to say,” Kominowski said.

The focus of this survey is on health care outcomes, which include anything health care-based such as level of exercise, smoking, cancer and other illnesses/behaviors.

Indiana, he said, is in third-to-last place when it comes to health care outcomes, followed only by Alabama and Mississippi, and Morgan County is in the bottom third of all health care categories in the state.

“To enhance the quality of life of everyone here, I think we need to have different discussions about what health and wellness means,” Kominowski said.

The survey, to reflect this, includes questions such as “How long, on average, do you have to wait for a doctor’s appointment?” and “Do you feel your household can access and afford healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables?”

Kominowski said there are many factors, aside from just wealth, that affect these health care outcomes. Some of it could boil down to a lack of good walking trails or restaurants that serve healthy food.

“There’s just these natural challenges here, and so we have to figure out how to overcome that to still promote a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Kominowski said if the results show people are interested in something under their purview, they will consider funding it. However, he said people often express interest in the foundation funding or changing elements of the county that are actually outside their jurisdiction — like sidewalk or road conditions.

He said if that were the case, they’d work with local authorities to make those changes if they can.

The data from the survey is being crunched by a company out of Indianapolis called Polyphonic, which also helped CFMC massage some of the questions created from a local steering committee.

“Having someone else who this is their expertise, this is what they do all the time, it’s invaluable,” he said.

After the data has been tabulated, the company will relay it to the steering committee who will then begin developing a plan based on the results.

The survey, of which there is a short and long form, will be available until the end of the year. Kominowski said they will have to assess the costs, involvement and effectiveness of the survey before they make a decision on whether or not to do it again.

He said they are not a huge community foundation with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend, but they’ll look into addressing the issues the public expresses in the survey.

“We’ll do the best we can on what we can impact,” he said.

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