Windshield Survey Essay
Windshield Survey Essay
The enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010 ushered in a host of reforms aimed at improving accessibility and quality and lowering the cost of care. Community health needs assessments are essential as they allow providers to understand the prevailing health care needs and develop implementation strategies to improve the health of communities served by any system; either public or private. A core aspect of the assessment is to conduct a windshield survey as an informal survey by driving around the community or area while researching and recording the observations. The purpose of this windshield survey is present observations made about Prince George’s County, Maryland. The data obtained from the survey will offer background and context for conducting a community assessment to develop ways to deal with a high prevalence rate of type 2 diabetes.
Prince George’s County in Maryland borders the eastern part of Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, Howard, Calvert, Anne Arundel, and Charles Counties. The county is second-most populous in Maryland after Montgomery County. The geographical boundaries of this country are determined by geography and not economic status. Calvert and Charles Counties were created in 1695 and named after Prince George of Denmark (Maryland State Archives, 2022). The county is bounded northwest by D.C. and Montgomery County, northeast and east by Patuxent River, south by Charles County, and west by Potomac River. Its headquarters are Upper Marlboro.
Environment and Culture
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The houses in the county constitute modern houses with apartments and townhouses to those built in the 1950s and even before. These houses range from colonial, ranch, Cape Cod to modern styles. Most are constructed of brick, shingle, and stucco. Many are all single-family homes. However, the modern houses found in urban areas like Upper Marlboro are apartments and townhouses. These houses have space in the front and back with most on half an acre or more. The houses have central heating and the community is on a water well system. There are many open lots where homes are not built. I observed a hose farm in the community. However, very limited neighborhood hangouts are present in the community. One has to go for a mile to meet the nearest schoolyard, a convenience store, and a park. From the housing, I can assume that the economic status of the area is affluent but with some pockets of the community having higher needs and poor health situations.
Signs of Decay
The general condition of the area is good and little signs exist to show any decay. No garbage can be noticed or spotted in the area. However, junky vehicles and yards can be noted as one drives through the inner parts of the county, especially on the outskirts of Upper Marlboro.
Parks and Recreational Areas
There are a host of parks and green spaces in the county. These parks and green spaces are in good condition to encourage the community members to go for recreational activities. These parks include Bowie Park, garden and museum, College Park Museum and park and garden, and Laurel Park and garden and lake. These parks offer one a chance to interact with nature and are well maintained for the residents to enjoy recreational activities in them. The museums offer an opportunity to learn about the county’s history. There are also other types of recreational areas like the National Harbor where live music is played to keep one entertained.
Transportation in the area is well-organized with a public bus system called “The Bus” that runs regular services from Monday to Saturday except for a majority of Federal Holidays. The bus system has several routes that one can use to move around the county with ease and in real-time. The stress conditions are excellent and the majority of the people use the public system. The Upper Marlboro area is a heavily traveled zone because of the several industries and organizations, including federal agencies having operations here. The area has metro and commuter rail services that constitute part of the larger Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The area also has an airport, College Park Airport, considered the world’s oldest continually operated aviation facility. The area is also served by other international airports like Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia among others.
Many facilities and industries are located in the area. Prince George’s County houses several federal agencies and organizations and private sector players that include technology and aerospace sector players like SGT, Inovalon, Verizon, and the MGM National Harbor. The federal facilities in the area include Joint Based Andrews, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Internal Revenue Services, and Census Bureau among others (Maryland Government, 2021). Private-sector industries in the area are so many and should be generating billions of dollars in economic output.
Schools and Religion
The area has different levels of schools; right from kindergarten to tertiary institutions like colleges and universities. Many schools are in the urban parts of the area with colleges having many students. There are religious facilities, mainly Christians based on the number of church buildings noticed in the area.
There is no evidence of gang activity on the outer streets but this is not sufficient as one may have to get into the inner parts of the area. Billboards in the area mainly focus on the marketing of products and reflect an atmosphere of an organized community. The area is multicultural with a majority being African-Americans who constitute about 62% followed by whites at 32% and Hispanic or Latino at about 3% with the remaining percentage having Asians and American Indians or Alaskan Natives.
The environmental factors in the area that show a positive contribution to the health of the residents include sufficient walkways, parks, and recreational facilities that allow them to engage in physical activity. The area has lakes and several scenic areas to encourage outdoor activities that allow people to exercise and get fresh quality air.
General Resident Health Observations
The general positive health behaviors and appearance among the residents include seeing a majority exercising, some biking, and others doing yoga in the parks around the area. The residents seem also keen on having better weight and a majority wants to keep healthy as grocery stores have nutritious food choices. More fundamentally, a few can be seen going to fast food establishments, especially in rural parts as some have small gardens where they can grow vegetables.
Community Health Issues
The health issues that I may expect as prevalent in the community may include non-communicable diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and even cancer. The community assets in the area include health facilities as the county has several hospitals run by the local government as well as those managed by the private sector. The obstacles may include limited awareness and information on the importance of primary health interventions like physical activity and the need for regular physician checkups and visits. Prince George’s County has different social services like community areas for education and provision of assistance to vulnerable individuals and families, health care services as provided by the existing facilities, and protective services like the fire station and law enforcement services provided by the police.
Community Needs & Strength
Based on my observation there is a need to cater to the higher needs of vulnerable individuals and families. The area also has poor health outcomes for the majority African-American population with many susceptible to type 2 diabetes. However, one notices that the community has resources that can address the problem. The resources include sufficient allocation of funds by the local government based on its health strategy, and health care providers who can offer their expertise to alleviate the problems.
Community Crisis Response
Existing assets in the community that can offer benefits to ensure appropriate delivery of health care services include community health care workers, resources from the local and state government, and effective collaboration and participation of residents in creating awareness about the role of primary care interventions. The potential obstacles may include lack of collaboration among different stakeholders, limited funding from state and local government, and insufficient research findings to guide the implementation of appropriate interventions to tackle the current problems.
I feel that the area was receptive and accommodative based on the warm reception by the residents and even health officials that I sought assistance from while on the windshield survey. I felt comfortable visiting the parks and driving around the streets in the area. I also felt comfortable interacting with some of the residents. The people were friendly and willing to help, especially where I could stop to find out more about some of the observations.
Windshield surveys are essential for healthcare providers as they offer background information about community health needs. The surveys provide critical data and information that can be used to assess health needs and develop and implement appropriate interventions to enhance overall care delivery. The windshield survey in Prince George’s County, Maryland was informative and offered a host of observations on the need for community health needs assessment for the area and its residents.
Maryland Government (Department of Commerce) (2021). Brief Economic Facts: Prince
George’s County, Maryland. https://commerce.maryland.gov/Documents/ResearchDocument/PrGeorgesBef.pdf
Maryland State Archives (2022). Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Describe the boundaries of the area being surveyed
Is the area a named neighborhood?
Are the boundaries determined by geography or economic status?
Environment and Culture
Describe the houses in the area including:
-Age of the houses
-Overall condition of the houses
-types of housing (single-family, multiple-family, apartments)
-how many are for sale or vacant, etc.
-from the housing, what could be assumed about the economic status of the area?
Signs of decay
Besides the housing, what is the general condition of the area? Do you notice things like garbage or junky cars in the area?
Parks and recreational areas
Describe any parks, playgrounds, or other green spaces you notice. In your description make note of the conditions of these areas, and if they seem to be used. Are there any other types of recreational areas?
Describe the transportation in the area, and the condition of the streets. Do you see anybody using public transportation? Is public transportation available? Is there a heavily travel area?
Are there any industries in the area?
List the type, level, and the number of schools.
List the number and types of religious facilities.
Do you see any evidence of gang activity? What types of billboards/ sides do you see, and how do they reflect the atmosphere of the area? What cultural and ethnic groups live in this area?
Do you see anything in the environment, positive or negative, that might be contributing to the health of the community residents? Describe how the factor could be impacting the health of the residents
General resident health observation
General positive health behaviors or appearances among the community residents
Community health issues
What health issues might you expect to be prevalent in the community?
Community assets and obstacles
Describe any type of social service, health care service and protective service (fire and police) in this area
Based on your observations, identify any problems in the community.
Did you notice any community resources that might address the problems you identified?
Community crisis response
What assets exist in the community that would be beneficial for ensuring that health care services are appropriately delivered during a community crisis?
What potential obstacles exist in the community with regards to providing health care services during a community crisis?
How did you feel being in the area?
Where you comfortable/ safe?
Did the people seem friendly?