Press-Republican

April 6, 2013

Region's health roadmap points to problems

DENISE RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — North Country residents smoke more, eat more and drink more than the average Joe.

They also have a harder time finding a dentist, a primary-care physician and someone to lean on for emotional support.

So say the findings in the 2013 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Program from the Robert Wood Johnson Institute and University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.

It evaluates health trends in the United States and ranks each as a means to encourage healthier communities.

“We know that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office: in our schools, workplaces and neighborhoods,” the program website states, adding that its work “can show what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.”

The published results “are helping communities look at the many factors that influence health, focus on strategies we know work and make changes that will have a lasting impact on health.”

HEALTH BEHAVIORS

Overall, Essex County ranked best for local counties as far as health factors, coming in 19th out of 62 counties. Those behaviors included smoking, drinking, eating, lack of exercise, motor-vehicle crashes, sexually transmitted diseases and teen birth rates.

Clinton County ranked 44th, and Franklin County was 51st.

Smoking: The data reported that 10 percent of adults nationwide and 18 percent of New Yorkers smoke cigarettes every day. That compares to 18 percent in Clinton County, 15 percent in Essex County and 19 percent in Franklin County.

Obesity: One in four people, or 25 percent of the population of the United States and New York state, are considered obese, which is defined as a person with a body-mass index of 30 or more. Residents in all three area counties rank higher than that, with Essex and Franklin counties at 28 percent and Clinton County at 29 percent.

Alcohol: The rate of binge and excessive drinking locally is nearly three times the national average, the study found. The national average is 7 percent, the state average is 17 percent, but the average in Clinton County is 25 percent; Essex County, 19 percent; and Franklin County is 22 percent.

CLINICAL CARE

Clinton County rated the best of the three counties when it comes to health-care data, finishing 32nd out of 62 counties on issues such as availability of doctors and dentists, insurance coverage, diabetic and mammography screenings.

Essex County ranked 37th and Franklin County, 51st.

Uninsured: The national average of people age 65 and younger with no health insurance is 11 percent, and it’s 14 percent in New York state, the report states. Clinton County ties the national average at 11 percent uninsured, while Essex County has 14 percent and Franklin 16 percent.

Available care: The national ratio of primary-care doctors per population is 1,067 to 1 compared to 1,222 to 1 in New York state. It is 1,395 to 1 in Franklin County, 1,521 to 1 in Clinton County and 3,024 to 1 in Essex County, the report states.

Dental care nationally is a ratio of one dentist for every 1,516 people. It is 1,414 to 1 in New York state, compared to 2,290 to 1 in Clinton County, 3,223 to 1 in Franklin County and 3,815 to 1 in Essex County.

Screenings: About 90 percent of diabetics nationwide have in-depth blood screenings done, compared to 85 percent in New York state, 85 percent in Franklin County, 86 percent in Clinton County and 88 percent in Essex County.

Nationally, 73 percent of Medicare-eligible women have an annual mammogram, compared to 66 percent in New York state. Both Clinton and Franklin counties meet the national average with 73 percent, and Essex County has 71 percent receiving the test.

SOCIAL FACTORS

High-school-graduation rates, college experience, unemployment, violent crime, single-parent households and children living in poverty are factors that impact health care in communities, the study states.

Essex County has the best local rating, ranking 32nd overall out of 62 counties statewide on these issues, compared to Clinton County at 47 and Franklin County at 55.

College: About 70 percent of people age 25 to 44 in the United States have had some college education, compared to 64 percent of New Yorkers, but all three local counties finish lower. About half of people age 25 to 44 in Clinton County have some college experience, with 54 percent in Essex County in that category and 48 percent in Franklin County.

Poverty: About 14 percent of kids younger than 18 live in poverty across the country compared to 23 percent of kids in New York. Nearly 1 in 3 children, or 29 percent in Franklin County, live in poverty, while about 1 in 5 do so in Essex County (22 percent) and 20 percent in Clinton County, the report states.

Parents: About 20 percent of homes in the country are single-parent households, compared to 34 percent in New York state. The local statistics are: 35 percent in Franklin County, 31 percent in Clinton County and 29 percent in Essex County.

Mental health: Nationally, about 14 percent of people have inadequate social and emotional support, while the number nearly doubles for New York state (24 percent). In Franklin County, the rate who don’t have that help available is 21 percent, compared to 19 percent in Clinton County and 16 percent in Essex County.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com