With 2020 being a census count year, the Monroe Journal is presenting a series of stories stressing the importance of participation for an accurate count. Accurate census counts translate to a number of benefits such as funding for roads, grants and education. The effects of the census resonate for several years to come.
Among the number of ways census information benefits Monroe County, health care facilities also reap its benefits. Once tabulated, numbers generated from the census will be the tools used to structure funding for health care on both state and community levels for the next 10 years.
“I think accurate census information is vitally important. Rural areas are definitely at a disadvantage already compared to urban areas. If everyone doesn’t do their part, we are at a greater disadvantage. Census information is one of the data sets most used when developing grant applications to bring critical grant dollars into our communities. These grant dollars help employee members of our communities and provide much-needed resources that would not otherwise be available,” said Access Family Health Services Executive Director Marilyn Sumerford.
North Mississippi Medical Center Gilmore-Amory Marketing Director Lorie Bryant is especially concerned about accurate census counts.
“Accurate census counts ensure that funding is equitably distributed for programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC),” she said. “Undercounted individuals in the census leave state and localities with less support than they deserve, all affecting the health and well-being of our population. Without the data to guide the needs of the population being served, it makes it difficult to plan for the future health needs of that population.”
Furthermore, Bryant noted the critical role census data plays in generating timely and adequate response when disaster strikes.
She referenced information from the Population Reference Bureau stating, “Detailed population information is critical for emergency response in the wake of disasters. First responders and disaster recovery personnel use census data to help identify where and how much help is needed. Similarly, demographic details from the census assist epidemiologists and public health personnel in everything from tracking disease outbreaks, to combating the opioid epidemic to improving child health.”