, population race, ethnicity, education,  age and income according to the ​State of Rhode Island Division of Planning Department







Community Assessment: Westerly

Jane Smith

New England Institute of Technology




















I conducted my community assessment in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island

using the community-as partner model, which is based off Neuman’s systems theory. The

model was beneficial tool ​when collecting data, analyzing that data, and making

conclusion about the data, as it relates to health problems in the community of Westerly.

The latter in conjunction with my overall impression of the Westerly community

contributed to the creation of a community nursing diagnosis, which lead to the planning,

implementation and evaluation of health problems and needs within the community.

Community Core

In my quest to acquire knowledge about the people who reside in the geopolitical

community of Westerly, I needed to first examine the community’s history. According to

the ​State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (n.d.),

Westerly is a part of Washington County, is approximately thirty-three square miles

toward the corner of southwestern Rhode Island and is roughly 42 miles southwest from

Providence. Westerly was once occupied by Indians thousands of years ago. Although the

exact dates are undetermined since Indian sites have not yet been dated, it is known that

when the Europeans arrived in American, The Narragansett Indian tribe had already been

well established. The Narragansett Indians occupied the area up until about 1632. Today,

those Indians who resided in Westerly for centuries are only remembered through liberal

sprinklings of place name throughout the land and through artifacts that can be found at




various archeological sites. (State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage

Commission, n.d.).

The town of Westerly has a total of 16 villages (i.e. Avondale, Bradford, Dunn’s

Corners, Havershame, Misquamicut, Napatree Point, Pleasant Hill, Pleasant View, Potter

Hill, Sandy Point, Shelter Harbor, Stillmanville, Watch Hill, White Rock and Wi)

(RI.gov, 2016). The demography of the community core helped me gather information

regarding the population of people who reside in Westerly. The tables below are a

breakdown of the demographic profile of the town, population race, ethnicity, education,

age and income according to the ​State of Rhode Island Division of Planning Department

of Administration (n.d.):

Table 1-1

Race  Population  % of Population

White  21,360  94.0%

Black / African American  285  1.3%

American Indian &

Alaskan Native

110  0.5%

Asian  424  1.9%

Native Hawaiian & other

Pacific Islander

0  0.0%

Other  138  0.6%

Two or more races  403  1.8%

Total 22,720







Table 1-2

Ethnicity  Population  % Of Population

Hispanic or Latino (any


388  1.7%

Not Hispanic or Latino  22,332  98.3%

Total 22,720


Table 1-3

Educational Attainment  Population 25 – Years &


% Of Population 25 –

Years & Older

Less than 9​th​ grade  549  3.4%

9 ​th​ – 12 ​th​ grade, no diploma  1,505  9.2%

High school diploma or


4,577  27.9%

Completed some college  2,888  17.6%

Associate degree  1,890  11.5%

Bachelor’s degree  3,209  19.6%

Master’s degree  1,460  8.9%

Professional degree  216  1.3%




Doctorate degree  85  0.5%

Total 16, 379



Table 1-4

Household Income  Households  % Of Occupied


Less than $10,000  362  3.8%

$10,000 – $14,999   393  4.1%

$15,000 – $24,999   965  10.1%

$25,000 – $34,999  848  8.8%

$35,000 – $49,999  1,429  14.9%

$50,000 – $74,999  1,770  18.5%

$75,000 – $99,999  1,191  12.4%

$100,000 – $149,999  1,523  15.9%

$150,000 – $199,999  663  6.9%

$200,000 or more  438  4.6%

Total 9,582

Median household income: $60,532


Interrelated Subsystems

Physical Environment




The ​State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (n.d.)

noted that most of the boundaries in Westerly are natural. The Pawcatuck River separates

Westerly from the towns of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, both Stonington and North

Stonington, Connecticut. The town also has several physical zones that are very distinct,

all of which were shaped by a continental glacier. A very sharp topographic boundary

follows Route 1A and is roughly one mile wide. The boundary is sometimes referenced

as terminal moraine because of its very irregular landscape that has many depressions and

hills; some of which are water-filled. The Coastal plain is south of Route 1A. It was

formed by the sand and gravel that washed out of terminal moraine. (State of Rhode

Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, n.d.). In addition to Rhode

Island’s natural board being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, which is the back yard to

some residents that live on the coastline of Westerly, there are many ponds that are

scattered throughout the town.

Built environments, such as housing and neighborhoods, are potential health

indicators. The United States Census Bureau (2000) revealed that 5,994 residents are

owners of housing units and 3,408 residents are renters of housing units. According to

Area Vibes (n.d.a), the median cost to purchase a home is $278,100. The median rent

asked is $1,081. The median home cost in Westerly is about 58% more than the estimated

national average. The median rent price is about 18% more than the estimated national

average. The number of renters who occupy households is roughly 11% higher than the

estimated national average, whereas the number of homeowners in Westerly is about 6%

lower than the estimated national average. (Area Vibes, n.d.a).




Health and Social Services

Westerly has one hospital that is voluntary non-profit according to ​City-Data

(2017). There are four nursing homes, two of which have built in rehabilitation centers in

them, a health center and a dialysis center (City-Data, 2017). The following table is of

percentage rates of the health and nutrition of Westerly-ians according to City-Data


Table 2-1

Healthy diet rate Westerly: 50.6% Rhode Island: 48.8%

Average health of


Westerly: 47.3% Rhode Island: 45.7%

Average BMI Westerly: 28.7 Rhode Island: 28.6

Mental health issues Westerly: 22.2% Rhode Island: 21.9%

People who do not drink


Westerly: 11.2% Rhode Island: 10.7%

Average hours of sleep Westerly: 6.9 Rhode Island:6.8

Overweight people Westerly: 35.0% Rhode Island: 33.7%

General health condition Westerly: 56.2% Rhode Island: 55.2%

Average hearing condition Westerly: 77.4% Rhode Island: 78.2%


Westerly was listed number two on the top 101 cities who had the highest percentage of

residents who visited a dentist in the past year (City-Data, 2017). Lastly, there are a total




of 58 group practices in Westerly with a wide array of services to meet the needs of the

residing population (Health Grades, 2017).

City-Data (2017) also disclosed past health violations and monitoring violations

that occurred in Westerly. They only cited health violation was in May 2012 regarding

water contamination with coliform. Compliance was achieved in July 2012. As for

monitoring violations, there were three occurrences in 2006 and in 2012, all of which

compliance was achieved within a two month time frame. As for air quality, the air

quality index (AQI) level in Westerly was 98.9 in 2013, which was worse than the

average. (City-Data, 2017).


The ​State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (n.d.),

noted that until around the 1800, agricultural interest were very important as the widely

spread population steadily grew. Commercial and manufacturing companies were very

small-scale, local enterprises. Shortly after 1800, a decline in the population occurred, but

the population remained constant until the surge of industrial development occurred

1840, which triggered the large increase within the population. In that year, the

population was 1,912; by 1875 the population number almost tripled reaching 5,408.

(State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, n.d.).

Currently, the job market has drastically improved since 1874 and thus the

economic conditions have improved. The average income, according the State of Rhode

Island Division of Planning Department of Administration (n.d.), is $60,532. That median

household income number is 10% higher compared to the national average (Area Vibes,




n.d.b) Neighborhood Scout (2016) noted that the most prevalent jobs for the residents of

Westerly are mixed with both white and blue-collar occupations. In general, the town of

Westerly is made up of sales, office workers, professionals and service providers. There

are an exceptional amount of people who work in either office and administrative support

positions (13.91%), management occupations (10.40%) and sales (10.18%). Westerly

also has more residents who work with computers or math than 95% of other places in

the U.S. (Neighborhood Scout, 2016).


Transportation and Safety

The State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (n.d.),

noted that Westerly only has three major highways (i.e. U.S. 1, Historic Post Road, and

State Highway 3, Nooseneck Hill Road), that help funnel traffic both to and from the

Westerly Village and nearby Connecticut. Penn Central Railroad also goes back and forth

through Westerly Village, providing passenger service. Passing the northern end of town

is Interstate 95, which offers both a direct and high-speed connection. In 1978 a modern

highway called Route 78, also known as the Westerly By-Pass, was created and skirts the

town. It serves to help speed travelers both to and from the shore areas in the town.

Toward the end of Route 78 and Post Road is Westerly State Airport, one of the major

links between the mainland and Block Island. (State of Rhode Island Historical

Preservation & Heritage Commission, n.d.).

Area Vibes (2015) noted that the crime rate in Westerly is roughly 34% under the

national average. For every 100,000 residents, there are 5.19 crimes that occur daily.




There is a 1 in 53 probability of being a victim to any crime. The total number of year to

year crimes has decreased by 30%. Westerly is considered safer than 69% of cities

within the U.S. (Area Vibes, 2015). It appears that the local law enforcement, Westerly

Police Department, does a good job maintaining citizen safety.

An observation I made was that law enforcement is strict on impaired driving. In

Westerly, there are sometimes traffic safety marketing using road side monitors that

display the phrase ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ or ‘Drive Now. Text Later’,

Occupant protection is enforced through enforcement of the click it or ticket law.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (2014), the percentage of

seat belt use in Washington County (i.e. Westerly) was 86.8% for drivers and 88.0% for


Politics and Government

There are more Democratic political party members in Westerly than there are

Republican political party members (City-Data, 2017). According to Westerly Rhode

Island (2016), in both the Town Council and School Committee, there are three

Democrats, two Republican and two Independent party council members. The Senator of

the General Assembly is a republican, but the Representative in the General Assembly,

Congressional Delegation US Senator in Congress and the US Representative in

Congress are Democrats. Every term, except for the School Committee and the

Congressional Delegation US Senator in Congress, are two-year terms. The School

Committee is a four-year term and the Congressional Delegation US Senator in Congress

is a six-year term. (Westerly Rhode Island, 2016).




Communication / Recreation

Churches were and still are a way for the resident of Westerly to gather, worship

and converse with one another. According to ​the State of Rhode Island Historical

Preservation & Heritage Commission (n.d.), churches were organized at an early century

in Westerly. During that time, the Westerly area was primarily Baptists and

Sabbatarian’s. In the mid-nineteenth century Episcopalian, Catholic, Congregations and

Methodist churches were organized. (State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation &

Heritage Commission, n.d.). In my observation of churches in Westerly, the majority are

that of the Catholic faith. However, City-Data (2015) estimated that 53.5% of the

Westerly population either does not have a specific religion or simply do not attend


Communication also takes place in many forms of recreation. For example, in my

observations over the past half-decade of living in Westerly, I have observed individuals

going to Wilcox Park to walk. There are also many festivals that take place in the park

throughout the year as well. In addition, there are several other community parks and

fields for children, families and friends to play. Gyms and the YMCA have also been

places where all age group go to socialize and workout. In both the Spring and Summer

time, many people will paddle board in ponds or go to the beach to relax or surf. There

are outdoor volleyball and tennis courts. In the winter there is an outdoor ice skating

rank. Cell phone and internet based social media communication / coverage is abundant

in the community. Local bakeries and coffee shops sometimes offer free Wi-Fi.





School enrollment refers to when students attend school, private or public

(Moving Ideas, 2017). According to the ​State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation &

Heritage Commission (n.d.), the first school, which is no longer standing, was built in

1792 and was used to orchestrate town meetings, devotional purposes, and education. In

1832, eight private and eleven public schools were created as education became universal

(State of Rhode Island historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, n.d.). Currently,

Westerly has three elementary schools, one private and one public middle school, and

one high school (City-Data, 2017). Additionally, Neighborhood Scout (2016) noted that

the education level for residents of Westerly is substantially higher compared to typical

US communities. However, the test scores for Dunn’s Corners School (grades KG – 04),

State Street School (grades KG – 04), Spring brook Elementary School (grades KG – 04),

Westerly Middle School (grades 05 – 08) and Westerly High School (grade 09 – 12)

range between 63 and 82; with the average test score being 74% (Area Vibes, n.d.c). All

the schools, with the exception of Westerly High School, has a play ground for children

to play. Westerly High School has a football, baseball, soccer and lacrosse fields; a track

and an indoor basketball court.

Community Diagnosis

Based on all the data collected on the community of Westerly, I was able to

identify a few barriers that the community is faced with, as it relates to the normal level

of defense, it was hard for me to find data and or statistics on the mortality/morbidity rate

within the Westerly community. However, the level of overall health that the community

has reached overtime, according to ​City-Data (2017), is 56.2%; which is higher than the




overall percentage for the state of Rhode Island. Although the percentages for mental

health issues and obesity were not too high, obesity being the higher of the two, they

were still higher than the overall percentage for the entire state which poses health


As previously mentioned, obesity is a health stressor that is noted in the

community and is detrimental to the health of residents. Arikan et al. (2014), noted that

the prevalence of obesity has an increasingly unhealthy problem because of changes in

one’s diet and lifestyle. It places individuals at a higher risk to develop cardiovascular

diseases by causing other health related problems such as atherosclerosis, diabetes,

hypertension, etc. There are many fast food restaurants in the community of Westerly.

There are 17 pizza restaurants alone.

Problem-solving capabilities and or patterns of coping seem to have improved the

overall health rate in westerly by reducing automotive fatalities. For example, there has

been a decrease in automotive fatalities because of cracking down on drunk driving and

texting while driving. However, drug overdoses appear to be a big stressor for the

community of Westerly as well as for the rest of the state of Rhode Island.

According to Trust for America’s Health (2013), statistics indicate that Rhode

Island is ranked 13​th​ for the highest mortality rate of drug overdose in the United States.

The latter is a stressor for the community of Westerly. According to a report

Prescriptions Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic​,​ ​15.5 per 100,000 individuals

suffer from overdose fatalities (Trust for America’s Health, 2013). The deaths extend

across all age groups, classes, ethnicities and gender lines (The Westerly Sun, 2014). I




was unable to attain the actual number of drug overdoses that occurred in Westerly from

the Westerly Police Department without submitting a request that would have taken four

weeks to process, but there have been many arrests in connection with drug paraphernalia

possession, intent to sell, and risk of injury to a minor amongst other things (12 WPRI

Eyewitness News, 2014; The Westerly Sun, 2014a ; The Westerly Sun, 2015). Rhode

Island received an eight out of 10 for possible indicators of favorable strategies that can

help curb drug abuse (Trust for America’s Health, 2013).

The flexible line of defense is weakened because of the drug overdoses, which

cause social and health stressors. Lines of resistance were strengthened when the

Department of Behavioral, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals issued a response to

what was termed as “a recent increase in narcotic overdose” deaths within the state, was

prompted action of emergency regulations (The Westerly Sun, 2014). The new

regulations require behavioral healthcare providers to authorize the drug Naloxone to be

given to patients who they know or who may be opioid-dependent. Rules also mandate

the medication be offered to people in residential areas and in preparation for discharge

from detoxification settings. Emergency regulations require overdose treatment trainings,

including the administration of Naloxone, and overdose prevention to all staff personnel

in behavioral healthcare organizations. (The Westerly Sun, 2014).

Community Nursing Diagnosis

There were many stressors that were found in the Westerly community as it

relates to health. Education in relation to the stressors can help residents improve their

health and life expectancy so that they can continue to contribute to the community. The




following is my prioritized nursing diagnosis (Omaha System, 2016; Omaha System,

2016a; & Omaha System, 2016b).


i. Problem: Nutrition

ii. Problem Classification Scheme

a) Modifiers: Individual and Potential


● Many fast food restaurants

● Change in diet (i.e. increase in caloric intake and or portion


● Change in lifestyle (i.e. physical inactivity)

● Poverty


iii. Intervention Scheme

a) Category: Teaching, Guidance, and Counseling


● Education

● Dietary management (i.e. limit sugar intake and decrease

portion size).

● Encourage change and responsibility (i.e. assess readiness)

c) Category: Treatments and Procedures





● Behavior modification

● Exercises

● Stress management

● Support group

e) Category: Case Management


● Dietary management

● Nutritionist care

iv. Projected Evaluation

a) Knowledge

● 4 – adequate knowledge

b) Behavior

● 4 – Usually appropriate behavior

c) Status

● 4 – minimal signs/symptoms


i. Problem: Substance Use

ii. Problem Classification Scheme

a) Modifiers: Individual and Potential

b) RISK FACTORS ​(Mayo Clinic, 2017)

● Family history (i.e. addiction)

● Being male




● Having another type of mental health disorder

● Peer pressure

● Poor family involvement

● Anxiety, depression and loneliness

● Taking highly addictive drugs

iii. Intervention Scheme

a) Category: Teaching, Guidance, and Counseling


● Coping skills

● Education

c) Category: Treatments and Procedures


● Behavior modification

● Discipline

● Stress management

● Support group

e) Category: Case Management


● Community outreach worker services

● Continuity of care

● Change in environment

● Finances




● Social work/counseling

● Transportation

iv. Projected Evaluation

a) Knowledge

● 4 – adequate knowledge

b) Behavior

● 4 – Usually appropriate behavior

c) Status

● 4 – minimal signs/symptoms


Due to the complexity of obesity etiology, I have limited my diagnosis of obesity in

Westerly as being related to poor nutrition and or the intake of more food than is required

for one’s metabolic needs, as evidenced by their being many fast food restaurants and

physical inactivity.






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January 29, 2017 from


Area Vibes. (2015). Westerly, ri crime. Retrieved January 19, 2017 from


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Area Vibes. (n.d.c). Westerly, school information. Retrieved January 28, 2017 from


Arikan, I., Karakaya, K., Erata, M., Tüzün, H., Baran, E., Levent, G., & Yeşil, H. K.

(2014). Fighting obesity campaign in turkey: Evaluation of media campaign

efficacy. ​Central European Journal of Public Health​, ​22​(3), 170-174.

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January 19, 2017 from http://www.movingideas.org/westerly-ri/

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Retrieved January 28, 2017 from


RI.gov. (2016). Town of westerly. Retrieved January 19, 2017 from


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2017 from





State of Rhode Island Division of Planning Department of Administration. (2015a).

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State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. (n.d.). Historic

and architectural resources of westerly, rhode island: A preliminary report.

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29, 2017 from



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2017 from



The Westerly Sun (2015). Local police detectives make 7 heroin arrests in pawcatuck.

Retrieved January 29, 2017 from



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