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Jefferson County ranks among bottom third for health indicators

by Dennis Sharkey

Jefferson County is ranked in the bottom third of health rankings across the state according to a recently released study by the Robert Wood Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Public Health Institute.

Women's HealthAccording to the rankings Jefferson County ranks 70th out of the 98 counties in the state that were surveyed. Seven western Kansas counties were not included because of their low populations.

County Health Administrator Eileen Filbert told county commissioners last week that Jefferson County had fallen 16 spots from last year’s study. Seventy-five of the counties surveyed did not change in rankings.

“We’re small enough that just a little bit of change in something can make a big difference,” Filbert said about the rankings.

The rankings are modeled after four different health factors including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and the physical environment.

The report represents two types of health outcomes to represent how healthy a county is. How long people live and how healthy people feel are factored. Things taken into consideration are smoking and the number of people who are obese. Jefferson County is outpacing the state and the nation in some categories.

The adult smoking rate in Kansas is 19 percent. Jefferson County is at 20 percent. The adult obesity rate benchmark is 25 percent nationally but 29 percent in Kansas and 32 percent in Jefferson County. The county also outpaces the country (eight percent) and Kansas (15 percent) for excessive drinking at 18 percent.

The ratio of primary care providers per residents is alarming compared to state and national figures. The national ratio benchmark for a community is 631 residents for every provider. The state ratio is 857 people to every provider. Jefferson County nearly doubles the state benchmark at 1,526 residents per provider.

Jefferson County has a ratio of more older people compared to the rest of the state. In Kansas 13 percent of residents are 65 years or older. In Jefferson County the number is 15 percent. The county also has a higher number of residents who are diabetic. The state average is eight percent. Jefferson county’s is 10 percent. The county is right on pace with the state average for physical activity, however, 20 percent of adults say they have virtually no physical activity.

Filbert pointed to two factors she thinks affected the county’s rankings this year. Premature death rate is higher and the morbidity rates are higher. She said 14 percent of residents reported poor health. The national benchmark is 10 percent.

Filbert said mental health rankings for the county are also out of line with the national averages.

Access to physical activity and healthy foods like fruits and vegetables is way out of line from national benchmarks of 92 percent. In Kansas only 43 percent of residents have access to healthy foods while the number falls to 33 percent for Jefferson County.

Jefferson County also ranks as one of the worst for motor vehicle crash death rates.

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Posted by on Apr 26 2011. Filed under County, County Commission, County News, Government. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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