By Wayne Allen
The 2014 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, Building a Culture of Health county-by-county, was released Wednesday. Scioto placed last (No. 88) in health outcomes and 86th in health factors. The annual report, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, examines every county in the United States and ranks them on a state level based on health outcomes and factors.
Compared to last year’s report, Scioto County improved its health factors from 88th last year to 86 this year, and remained firm in 88th among health outcomes.
“As you look at that data, it mostly talks about 2008 to 2010. It’s going to take us time to really see the health benefits of the Scioto County Health Coalition, the activities and things we’re trying to do, to improve the big picture,” said Dr. Aaron Adams, Scioto County health commissioner, in reaction to the rankings.
Adams said this data validates the work of the coalition and should be encouragement to keep working.
“In critical care in mental health availability we’re still below the state and the national average locally. We recognize we (Scioto County) have serious mental health problems dealing with addiction along with other mental health disorders and that’s really holding us back,” Adams said. “I think we realize the addiction, crime, disease and behaviors that follow have really dragged us to a low level. It’s going to take us (Scioto County) a long time to resurface and get to where we need to be.”
Adams said he is pleased with the efforts of the health coalition in every aspect.
“There are many people throughout the community who have worked hard to support the efforts of the coalition. Doing a community assessment, community health improvement plans and strategic planning that we (Scioto County Health Coalition) are doing is the direction we need to go,” Adams said. “This is not something we can fix overnight. It may require generational change to see the full range of benefits. When you at the bottom the only place to go is up.”
When asked why he thought Scioto County moved up in the health factors rankings Adams said, “I think we are doing better with the health screenings. I think over a period of time health care has expanded in Scioto County. We’ve got Compass Community Health, King’s Daughters Medical Center Ohio and Southern Ohio Medical Center among others, I think we’re seeing improvement in clinical care which is going to help our health factors.”
The Scioto County Health Coalition, formed to improve collaboration and the overall health of Scioto County, has been working for about a year on these and other issues related to the overall health of the community.
Wendi Waugh, administrative director of SOMC Cancer Services and Community Health and Wellness, said she is pleased with the rankings and what the data indicates.
“I’m very happy with the changes that we’re (Scioto County) starting to see on the health factors side.. When you compare the last two years (of rankings) we were 88 and now we’ve moved up to 86,” Waugh said. “Overall I am very pleased with the new rankings and I think it shows a lot of the work that has been done by the Scioto County Health Coalition, Connex, SOMC and all of the other collaborating partners.”
Waugh said there is more work to be done to help improve the rankings in years to come.
“This (new health rankings) only energizes me if that’s possible,” Waugh said. “I’m only encouraged they (health rankings) are going to be even better next year.”
According to www.countyhealthrankings.org, “counties are ranked relative to the health of other counties in the same state on the following summary measures: Health Outcomes — rankings are based on an equal weighting of one length of life (mortality) measure and four quality of life (morbidity) measures. Health Factors — rankings are based on weighted scores of four types of factors: Health behaviors (seven measures), Clinical care (five measures), Social and economic (seven measures) and Physical environment (five measures).”
In health outcomes, Geauga County was listed as No. 1, Pike County ranked 83 and Lawrence County 87. In health factors Delaware County was listed at No. 1, Pike County ranked 88 and Lawrence County 72.
For a more detailed description of Scioto County’s health rankings visit, www.countyhealthrankings.org.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.