The South Portland Board of Health is seeking applicants for a citizen advisory committee that will help guide the city’s Community Health Needs Assessment.

The assessment will determine what the community’s health needs are and what gaps in South Portland services need filling.

“What the Board of Health concluded, a little over a year ago, was there wasn’t necessarily enough data to make that determination,” said Bridget O’Connor, vice chairperson of the board.

The assessment, which is being conducted by the Boston-based public health consultant company John Snow Inc. at a cost of $29,968, began in February.

“A lot of the data that we have was collected before COVID started, So there’s a lag in data,” said Natalie Truesdell, who is heading up the assessment for the consulting company.

Some of the data Truesdell hopes to uncover, she said, are shifts in the senior and youth populations, common health conditions of South Portland residents, and how frequently resources, like hospitals and clinics, are used.


They will also tap into a health needs assessment conducted every three years by the state, the newest of which is expected to be completed in April. Much of this year’s statewide assessment, Truesdell said, focuses on vulnerable populations, such as asylum-seeking individuals and refugees.

“Knowing that is a growing demographic in South Portland, that’s data we can pull in,” she said. “But the data isn’t the full picture.”

The goal is to involve the community as much as possible, she said, in a mix between “interactive events” for conversations with residents to working closely with the South Portland Community Health Needs Assessment advisory committee.

The committee will help guide the assessment.

“The advisory committee will come together and review the data presented,” O’Connor said. “They will essentially determine the best areas for prioritizing data collection … it might be in certain populations, it might be people with a certain health status.”

As the assessment unfolds, the public will be able to provide feedback.


“We’re trying to marry all of the existing data together with interactive events with community members, to meet with them, to create that picture,” Truesdell said. “We’ll be sharing data with them and say, ‘What do you take away from this? What do you think is accurate? What do you think is missing?'”

The committee will be comprised of at least one person from each of South Portland’s five districts, ideally two, said Josh Pobrsilo, South Portland firefighter, paramedic and public health officer.

“We’re trying to get as diverse a profile as we can,” he said. “Every district, the demographics and the needs, are very, very different. The needs of Ferry Village, versus the mall district, that’s entirely different.”

The board is also interested in having the city’s student population contribute.

“Thoughtful insight of a high schooler would probably be pretty important,” Pobrislo said. “You want a broad perspective.”

The assessment is expected to be completed by January 2023, with the consultant and committee meeting at least three times between May and December. The committee will ultimately present a list of recommendations for the city.


“The city may already have what it needs,” O’Connor said. “But perhaps people aren’t talking and aren’t collaborating currently.”

Truesdell said the assessment is coming at “a very important time” and all communities should “be thinking about these things.”

“We’ve been through such a traumatic few years,” she said. “Taking a moment to reset is really important, not just for health care, but everything.”

The application for the committee can be found at and are due by Friday, April 15.

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