Southwest Virginia fares poorly in new health rankings

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The County Health Rankings have came out nationwide and many Wabash Valley Counties rank quite low.

"Access to a primary care provider is an issue that affects many other aspects of health", Matthews said.

"Eleven percent of kids in Cumberland County live in poverty, but we still see huge disparities", says Oakman.

The organization is looking closer at social and economic factors as indicators of health than in the last nine years, Jerome said.

"The data provided by the Rankings provides us with valuable information we use to assure our existing policies and programs align with the identified needs of our community".

"We are now implementing a project with the Mississippi Department of Medicaid to prevent preterm births, many of which are low birth weight or to teens", she said.

Woo was also happy to see Bexar County has nearly twice the number of mental health providers per person when compared with the state average.

"That kind of looks at quality of life and a lot of different factors: behavioral factors, physical environment, access to care", said Kylie Jones the Community Health Planner. Mendocino County ranked 44th in the state, also dropping a spot from a year ago.

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This is the ninth year the rankings have been published.

Elsewhere in the region, Chesterfield County ranked 30th, Henrico County 33rd and Hanover County 16th. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. The obesity rate is 32 percent, and 28 percent of the population is physically inactive. It also rates last when measured by education levels, children in poverty, income inequality and violent crime. "I applaud those who are working to create healthy, connected communities and improve health opportunities for all people in Virginia".

"The Rankings allow us to tell the story about our strengths and opportunities for improvement as a state. We are taking action".

Lancaster County is holding steady as one of the healthiest of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, according to the latest edition of an annual ranking. Figures estimate poor health causes about 14,000 years of potential life lost in Petersburg, versus a state average of 6,100. Flagler County's ranking held steady at 14th.

But like Brecheisen of the Unified Government's health department, he says that turning the tide will take a long time.

A big Metro Health goal is to show the connection between crime and health. "So for housing and for area businesses that's a good change that we're helping with".

Youngsters living in poverty and teen births are also examined.

"We need to do more to address the true underlying drivers of health, if we want to see improvements and decrease health care costs", said Elizabeth Tilson, North Carolina's health director and chief medical officer. "So it's all about getting everyone involved in recognizing everyone has a role to play in improving their communities".

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