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Arlington officials surveying the public about health issues, access to care to fill in gaps

A doctor's office holds a medical bench and assorted tools for a checkup.
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The Arlington Fire Department's Public Health Unit launched a survey about health issues facing people and communities in town.

The Arlington Fire Department wants to know how people in town get medical help and advice—and what barriers may be in the way. The agency launched a survey as part of its expanded public health efforts.

Laud Dei, the unit's epidemiologist, says the survey results will help his team tailor programs and services to each community, especially in parts of town that have historically had less access to health care.

"Our aim is to help people to improve their quality of life. One of the best things that we can do is understand their health status," Dei said.

The survey asks about common health conditions and diseases, including heart problems, diabetes and sexually transmitted infections, as well as information about the last time they needed medical attention.

The four-page questionnaire is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese until May 9. It is the first of its kind from the agency, and will not be the last. Dei says they'll periodically survey people in town about health care issues and access. Individual survey results are confidential, and the department will study the findings to guide programming decisions.

"We will be able to draw our strategies and give them the right support when we understand the exact health problems that we have in these communities," Dei said.

Fire department staff have twice extended the survey deadline to collect more responses, and translated the surveys into Spanish and Vietnamese after receiving requests from the community, Dei said. Public health employees will also set up computers where people can complete the survey during acommunity wellnessfair at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Bob Duncan Center at 2800 S. Center St.

Around 203 has people responded to the survey as of 1 p.m. Friday, April 22, Dei said.

The fire department launched its Public Health Unit last year to focus on providing resources to historically underserved communities. The department received funding in the city's 2022 budget to create45 new firefighter and two public health positions in an effort to expand public health efforts and lower emergency response times. The department in 2021 opened its Public Health Unit building at 2920 S. Cooper St., where it has offered free COVID-19 vaccinations. The center is designed to be a central location for public outreach.

Free first- and second-dose COVID vaccinations are available with no appointment necessary between9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the public health unit building.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard covers Arlington for KERA News and The Arlington Report. Broussard has covered Arlington since 2020 and began at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before joining the station in 2021.