County health ranks high PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor   
Thursday, 21 March 2013 10:26
File photo. Caroline Strzesynski, CNP, checks Christina Veitch's blood pressure at the Health and Wellness Center formerly The Wood County Health Department. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Wood Countians smoke less, exercise more, have better incomes and are more likely to have health insurance than many Ohioans.
Those along with other factors earned Wood County a ranking of seventh among Ohio’s 88 counties in a national health ranking released Wednesday.
But Wood County still has its share of unhealthy habits, leading to adult obesity. And while a larger percentage of local residents have health insurance than the state average, 11 percent of Wood Countians said they could not see a doctor due to cost.
Wood County Health Commissioner Pam Butler said this morning that she is pleased overall with the ranking.
“We’ve done really well,” she said.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas to improve. Local public health officials will study the rankings to see how to respond.
“We need to look at — how do we fix this? What are the barriers, what are the resources so we can make that number get better,” she said.
The county health rankings look at the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. Nationally, the data revealed that unhealthy counties have more than twice the rate of premature deaths than healthy ones and childhood poverty rates are twice as high in unhealthy counties.
The rankings allow counties to see how they compare to other counties within the state based on a range of factors that influence health including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. This year’s rankings include new measures, such as how many dentists are in a community per resident.
“The rankings help us to understand what factors have influenced good health in our community and how we can continue to make Wood County a healthy place to live, learn, work, and play,” Butler stated. “For example, Wood County has strengths in the areas of teen pregnancies, adult smoking and premature death where it ranked seventh for healthy behaviors and fifth for mortality.”
“We know from the rankings that Wood County needs to do more to improve clinical care, such as increasing how many people are screened for diabetes and breast cancer, reducing preventable hospital stays and ensuring that residents without health insurance have access to health and dental care.”
Following is a list of where Wood County ranked compared to the rest of Ohio in some categories:
• Having poor or fair health, 13 percent compared to 15 percent.
• Low birthweight babies, 6.7 percent compared to 8.6 percent.
Health behaviors
• Adult smoking, 14 percent compared to 22 percent.
• Adult obesity, 30 percent for county and Ohio.
• Physical inactivity, 25 percent compared to 27 percent.
• Excessive drinking, 17 percent compared to 18 percent.
• Motor vehicle crash death rate, 12 percent compared to 11 percent.
• Sexually transmitted infections, 278 compared to 422.
• Teen birth rate, 17 compared to 38.
Health care
• Uninsured adults, 14 percent compared to 18 percent.
• Uninsured children, 5 percent compared to 6 percent.
• Could not see doctor due to cost, 11 percent compared to 13 percent.
• Primary care physicians, one for every 1,531 residents compared to every 1,348 residents
• Dentists, one for every 3,660 residents, compared to every 1,928 residents.
• Mental health providers, one for every 2,092 resident, compared to every 2,553 residents.
• Health care costs, $10,077 compared to $10,194.
• Preventable hospital stays, 73 compared to 79.
Social and economic factors
• Median household income, $50,624 compared to $45,803.
• High housing costs, 31 percent compared to 32 percent.
• Children eligible for free lunches, 29 percent compared to 37 percent.
• Homicide rate per 100,000 people, 1 compared to 5.
• High school graduation, 93 percent compared to 78 percent.
• Some college, 69 percent compared to 61 percent.
• Unemployment, 8.3 percent compared to 8.6 percent.
• Children in poverty,14 percent compared to 24 percent.
• Children in single-parent households, 24 percent compared to 34 percent.
• Violent crime rate, per 100,000 people, 71 compared to 332.
Physical environment
• Daily fine particulate matter in air, exposure rate 12.8 compared to 13.4.
• Drinking water safety, people exposed to water exceeding a violation limit during past year, 1 percent to 2 percent.
• Access to recreational facilities, number of facilities per 100,000 people, 9 compared to 10.
• Limited access to healthy foods, 6 percent for county and state.
• Fast food restaurants compared to other restaurants, 52 percent compared to 55 percent.
• Commuting alone, 82 percent compared to 83 percent.
• Access to parks, percentage living within half mile of a park, 20 percent compared to 41 percent.
Health outcomes
• Diabetes, 9 percent compared to 11 percent.
• HIV prevalence rate, 467 compared to 169.
• Premature age-adjusted mortality, 303 compared to 378.
The rankings are available at

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