City Metro Health Director Colleen Bridger
San Antonio Metro Health Director Colleen Bridger outlined a plan to streamline the focus of her department. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is conducting a community survey to determine the biggest health issues affecting city residents.

The public health department will use the information collected through online and paper surveys to develop the 2020-22 Strategic Plan, a triennial report outlining the City’s high-priority health concerns and how to address them.

The survey began last week and lists 22 health concerns, including access to health services, infant mortality, cancer, and air quality, and requests some demographic information such as the respondent’s age and zip code, said Colleen Bridger, director of Metro Health.

“We want to know what is important to [residents],” she said. “Rather than going out and presenting to the community what the most important concerns are, we want to base this on what they think without putting any restrictions on it.”

The survey, which will be available online through mid-December, will be conducted in person at City-run clinics and SA Speak Up public outreach events. The survey will help determine residents’ top 10 health concerns, and those will be narrowed down to three, following data analysis and review by a task force of Strategic Plan contributors.

“This will be completed by March [2019], which will allow us time to work with City Council if we identify funding gaps associated with priority issues and see if we can get it included, or addressed, during the budget process,” Bridger said.

Bridger assumed her role as Metro Health Director in March 2017, after the 2017-19 Strategic Plan was already mostly formulated. That plan originally included 21 priority areas before she narrowed it down to six.

Being able to focus on fewer areas of concern will help with understanding and addressing an issue, Bridger said. When looking at chronic health issues like diabetes, a thorough analysis needs to be completed “to make sure we completely understand all of the upstream factors associated with the disease, and what evidence-based interventions we will use to address them,” Bridger said.

The top 10 priority health indicators, as informed by community feedback, will be announced in early 2019 before being narrowed down ahead of Metro Health and the City of San Antonio’s 2020 fiscal year planning session.

“Knowing what the community sees as super important is critical to us being able to do our jobs well,” Bridger said.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.