The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released its 2009 County Health Rankings Report on Wednesday, examining each of Ohios 88 counties. In that report, Scioto and Lawrence counties placed last in categories of Health Factors and Health Outcomes, respectively. The County Health Rankings Report highlights how important other factors such as education and employment are to the overall health of a community, ODH Director Alvin D. Jackson, M.D, said. ODH will be working with our partners at the state and local level to identify creative and cost-effective solutions to the challenging health issues facing Ohios communities. The study was conducted by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute using data from 2005. In matters of Health Factors, Scioto County placed last at No. 88 and Lawrence County was No. 79. Health factors measure socioeconomic things like insurance, primary care, education, income, smoking, access to healthy foods and liquor stores, air pollution, obesity and motor vehicle accidents. In matters of Health Outcomes, Lawrence County placed last at No. 88 and Scioto County was just above it at No. 87. Among those statistics, Scioto County had 10,469 premature deaths in 2009; much higher than the target value of 6,008. The State of Ohio value is 7,590 and is higher than the target also, but still much lower than Scioto County. The report also goes on to say of Scioto County: 27 percent are in poor or fair health, 32 percent suffer from adult obesity; and, 35 percent of adults are smokers. The big thing in there is the socioeconomic thing. Were at a high poverty level and we dont have good jobs for people, Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams said. He said this relates to poor health because people in these conditions often neglect themselves and dont get proper medical or preventive care. It would be helpful if we could reach more people regarding prevention of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, regulating blood thinners, decreasing obesity, and promoting exercise and healthier eating habits, Adams said. Crime also has an impact on health factors, Adams said. With people diverting prescription drugs to make a living off of, we also have a significantly high number of sexually transmitted diseases, with reference to hepatitis C and chlamydia, Adams said. Delaware County placed first in both categories of Health Factors and Health Outcomes. Adams points out that the study was done actually before last year, and said there have been a lot of improvements in Scioto County since that time. We now have a heart care program at (Southern Ohio Medical Center), and people dont get turned away there if they need heart care of catheterization. We have a cancer program which doesnt turn away people either. So the access it there. Its probably not as great as it should be, but we have community action clinics and the City of Portsmouth has a health clinic for people. I think were making efforts to improve it, but its a long haul. We really need good jobs, he said. Over the next few months, ODH will be convening public health officials and community leaders, statewide, to join in a constructive dialogue regarding the best ways to improve Ohios well-being. The ODH 2009 County Rankings Report can be found online at www.countyhealthrankings.org/ohio.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail email@example.com.