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By Erin Smith

Southeastern Health conducted a Focus Group meeting at White Lake on Tuesday.

Southeastern Regional Health conducted a focus group meeting at the White Lake Town Hall on Tuesday evening. The format for the evening featured residents of White Lake answering a set of questions facilitated by Cathy Hunt, Healthy Carolinas Grant Facilitator, and May Lample, Community Mobilization Coordinator with Southeastern Health.

The purpose of the focus group is to learn the needs of the community. said Lample. “We are in the process of doing our Community Health Assessment and, as part of that process, we are polling the community to better learn the needs of the community.”

Lample said the information gathered will be used to develop an action plan and communities can also use the information when preparing grant proposals. She said the information that is compiled during these sessions ensures all services provided by Southeastern Health are “people centered.”

Participants in the focus group included Patsy Teachey, Harvey Iwerks, Jill Womble and Marcia Langston. Also, on hand to observe were Christy Sasser, Practice Manager with Southeastern Health, and representatives from the Southeastern Health Clinic at White Lake.

Questions centered on issues such as quality of life at the lake and the emergency response and recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

In response to the question, “What makes you most proud of your community?”

Jill Womble responded, “I just love White Lake. Everybody is usually pretty cordial. We do have nice visitors.”

The panel agreed with Womble’s assessment. It was also pointed out how the police department works to ensure visitors and residents alike feel safe in the community. Officers of the White Lake Police Department were described as both cordial and professional.

The response to Hurricane Matthew received favorable reviews from the panel. When asked if the panel felt prepared for the storm, the general response was, “Yes.”

Marcia Langston said she observed Emergency Services crews from different locations other than Bladen County going door-to-door to check on residents.
When asked about an extended loss of power, the panelists indicated most were without power about 2 or 3 days. It was pointed out that after Hurricane Fran, residents were without power for 7 to 8 days.

When asked, “How do you feel about the recovery from Hurricane Matthew?”

Team work was used to describe the efforts of town staff and Emergency Services. Langston responded that most of the large trees which fell during the storm have either been removed or have been sawn in preparation for removal.

The next focus group meeting will take place Thursday, April 27, 2017, at Fairmont Heritage Center, located at 207 South Main Street, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

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