Community members gathered Thursday at Oakland Community Center to give input on health care in Topeka and their neighborhoods.
The community health neighborhood roundtable was the last of three meetings that allowed residents to share their concerns and positive thoughts on the overall health of Topeka, their neighborhoods and access to health services.
The meeting was led by Vince Vandehaar, owner of VVV Consultants LLC, and Austin Jackson, director of strategy and business development at Stormont Vail Health. It was hosted by Stormont Vail and the Shawnee County Health Department.
During the roundtable, Vandehaar gave community members activities to participate in that gave them a chance to express their thoughts on community health.
For one activity, attendees were asked to rate the overall quality of their neighborhood and their general thoughts on their personal health.
Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran said he rated his neighborhood as very good but the overall health of Topeka as average.
"In other parts of town, people have to rely on the bus to get to and from health care," Cochran said.
Much of the discussion focused on access and availability of health care. Areas of concern that were brought up included improvement of how information gets out to the public, more Spanish speakers at health services, elder care and more education about health services.
Vandehaar also asked community members to talk about positive aspects of health in their neighborhoods.
"I think we have a lot of options here in town, again it's just access, taking advantage of what's offered," said Therese Peterson, of Topeka. "You don't have to leave to find it, and I think that's getting better."
Jackson said the roundtables were focused on getting community input and targeting the voices of specific communities.
"We really want to learn what the public perceives as their health issues, what's keeping them from being healthy," Jackson said.
Information gathered at all three roundtables held this week will be used for a town hall meeting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Shawnee County Health Department. Information gathered from the roundtables and a survey will be discussed, as well as a demographic profile, maternal and infant health profile, and a mortality profile.