The health condition of a community is very important in as far as development measures are concerned. To this effect, many governments through their health sectors tend to improve and keep at constant levels, the health status of any communities. This paper therefore tends to touch deeply the issues of community health nursing and its importance in maintaining high standards of community health. It therefore gives an in depth analysis as to how clinical nursing judgment techniques can be utilized effectively (for professional decision making) alongside community assessment strategies in a bid to uncover a community health problem and subsequently identify the components of the problem related to the community dynamics. It also cultivates into an individual the responsible nature to accept accountability for personal and professional development as part of the life-long learning process. As such, the community health problem discussed herein could be solved or contained with the requisite ease.
The community under discussion is a small one found in the county of Clarke, Alabama State. It is a small and very quiet town that has only one grocery store, 2 pharmacies, one 50-bed hospital, and multiple churches that are mainly Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, or Assembly of God faith. The cleanliness standards are maintained at high standards considering the way all of the streets found in this area are very clean (Bayendor, 1990). These high levels of cleanliness have made it easier for the streets to remain clear all the time. This is seen in the way no visible homeless people are found on the streets. Most of the houses are small in size and as such, individually owned. The town has an efficient public school education system that consists of an elementary, middle, and high school and one private school. Apart from the hospital, there are doctors’ clinics that are attached to the hospital and approximately 2-3 rural health clinics scattered throughout the county to boost the health care unit of the county. These descriptions paint the picture of this area as being a very rural town.
Demographic and Epidemiological data
Clarke County is more of a cosmopolitan state and comprises individuals of different races. The white population is the largest and accounts for about 74.5% of the total population, the black community for 12.4% and the other groups (Asians, native Alaskans, Hispanics and Indians just to mention a few) occupy the remaining percentages. The larger proportion of the population is of ages 5 to 50 years and this accounts for a large youthful population as well. Most of the houses (be it housing units or homes) are mostly privately owned and there are a few vacated and empty houses. There is a considerably large group of individuals in the labor force but their income levels are generally low and in some cases below the poverty line. This is seen in the way they have lower per capita levels as compared to the national standard ($16790 against the national $27,041). This region is also characterized by small sized families even though they are larger than the national sizes. A considerably smaller number of individuals have managed to attain academic excellence as seen in the few numbers of individuals who have attained bachelor degrees. There are also a high proportion of people who consume fast foods from the food restaurants in the area. The white community leads in the number of persons who consume fast foods. The area significantly misses recreational facilities despite the presence of groceries and fast food centers. As concerns this information it is correct to point out that obesity is the most likely of all the medical problems to affect the individuals of Grove Hill and the Clarke County as a whole. Poor diet habits (increase in fast food consumption habits in the last 5 years) and lack of recreational centers are just strong indicators of obesity development.
This is an agglomeration of both objective and subjective data that help to provide descriptions for the community through analyzing components such as the existing trends, stability as well as any variations that interfere with the population health. Key to the informal windshield survey conducted in this community was the information on the types of housing, schools, churches, health care providers, and environmental or safety hazards. The results were as follows:
i. Housing: Most of the houses found in this region were small in size and relatively old as a sign of permanent residence. The maintenance levels are generally high considering the general cleanliness found in the region and the size of the houses was an indication of private ownership. The types and sizes of houses in this county indicated low income levels among the inhabitants. There are also few vacant houses sighted in this region.( Livingston,1994)
ii. Schools: being a remote region, there are few educational institutions in existence. Most of the schools present in this community use the public system safe for one private school that is found in the region. The other schools are an elementary, middle, and high school. There are four schools in total.
iii. Stores and food services: the community has only one grocery shop and few shopping places.
iv. Religion: the region also has a host of various types of religious facilities. These facilities include multiple churches that are mainly Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, or Assembly of God faith in nature. This acts to display strong religious ties in the region.
v. Health and social service agencies: the community has various types of medical services that include a 50 bed capacity hospital, two pharmacies, approximately 2-3 clinics and a number of doctor clinics that are attached to the hospital.
vi. Signs of decay and/or pollution: there are no signs of any polluted lands or poorly maintained homes and the streets are highly maintained. Though, a remote area, this part of the county is really well maintained and the environment is well taken care of.
It is also important to note that this region is a very quiet and calm area that would promote efficient working conditions.
Problem identification and the subsequent community needs
According to the data (both the windshield and demographic surveys), the major medical problem that is present in the Groove Hill community is that of obesity. It is important to note that Clarke County has an obesity prevalence level of about 35.1% as compared to Alabama State’s 31.7%. This is indicative of the effect of obesity in this area especially the Groove Hill region. These high prevalence rates of obesity in Alabama State translate into high representation at the national level. Clarke County also has a higher percentage of low income pre-school individuals suffering from obesity as compared to the State’s national representation. This is seen in the way the county records an 18.3% representation against the state’s 13.5%. The relevance of obesity as the major health concern in this region is seen in the way it coincides with the Healthy People objectives 2020 that addresses the issue of nutrition and weight status (NWS). It is important we try and find solutions that would reduce its spread. Grove Hill area has a high proportion of persons affected by obesity. The reason as to why obesity is the biggest problem in the community is evident in the high prevalence rates that are witnessed in the region and also the general repercussions that result from it such as reduced working levels that lead to low income levels. The low income levels subsequently promote underdevelopment a witnessed in this area. Apart from obesity, diabetes is also a major health problem as seen in the high percentage of individuals affected by it.
The problem of obesity is very extensive and not only affects inhabitants of Grove Hill alone but also the county and even the state as a whole. It has affected most individuals in these regions and as such resulted into low income levels. This has subsequently led to the region being very remote and relatively under developed. An increase in the number of food stores in the regions surrounding Grove Hill could have aggravated the problem.
Obesity has been identified as the major health problem that affects most of the inhabitants of Grove Hill and therefore it is upon all of us to try and prevent the spread of this health problem. The most affected group are the teenagers who apart from engaging in minimal or no strenuous activities that lead to the burning of the accumulated fats and calories, like junk foods that contribute in a huge way to the development of obesity. The increased penetration of the region by food servicing institutions would only perpetrate the problem even more.