County health ranking rises PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Saturday, 29 March 2014 08:14
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Wood County's rank in the health of its residents has risen for the fourth year in a row.
The county ranks sixth overall this year out of Ohio's 88 counties, according to a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
County health rankings provide comparisons within a state on 29 factors that impact health, including smoking, high school graduation rates, unemployment, physical inactivity and access to healthy foods. The rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
The latest ranking shows consistent improvement for Wood County, as it improved upon a rank of 11 in 2011, ninth in 2012 and seventh in 2013.
"These reports are good for recognizing where Wood County succeeds in being a healthy place to live, but they are also valuable for helping to identity areas for improvement," said Pat Snyder, health education, information and communications manager for the Wood County Health District.
One measure for improvement is clinical care, the health district stated in a news release. Wood County improved from being ranked 19th in 2013 to 12th in 2014, but there is still room for improvement. One way to improve is in addressing the issue of access to care, made even more possible by the Wood County designation as a new healthcare access point under the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. This designation as a fully-funded federally-qualified health center helps address the issue of access to care in Wood County.
"Increased federal funding for the health center is allowing us to perform some renovations to add more exam room space, increase provider time for our physician, Dr. Steve Dood, offer some behavioral health services, and begin operation of a dispensing pharmacy where our clients can get their medications at a reduced cost. All of these items will lead to even greater services for a larger number of clients and will help to continue to move Wood County's clinical care standing even higher," said Ben Batey, CEO of the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center.
Adult obesity rates for Wood County were at 30 percent, which is the statewide percentage, according to the release.
"Even though we are comparable to Ohio with respect to the obesity problem, we have identified that as a priority in both the health district's strategic plan and Wood County's Community Health Improvement Plan," said Health Commissioner Pam Butler.
To that end, the health district has formed an obesity task force to examine and address weight issues for adults and children. As a result, one program that is currently being implemented in Wood County elementary schools is the "Veggie U" program. Veggie U is an evidence-based nutrition education program that supplies classroom garden kits and a five-week science program for elementary and special need classes, Health Educator Jennifer Wagner states.
"With only 46 percent of U.S. children ages 6-11 getting the total recommended amount of vegetables, this program aims to not only educate children about the importance of nutrition and eating vegetables, but to change their attitudes and behaviors towards eating vegetables," said Jennifer Wagner, health educator. In 2014, Veggie U is being implemented in 16 elementary schools in Wood County, totaling 38 classrooms.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 March 2014 08:31
 

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