County Health Coalition meets to discuss outreach

PDT Sports Report

August 20, 2012


PDT Staff Writer

The Scioto County Health Coalition met recently in an attempt to pool resources from the community to battle the poor health statistics attributed to this region. Dr. Terry Johnson of the Coalition said one of the things the committee is working on is building a website the committee says will allow the public access to the information from Coalition meetings.

“It will be very useful to the public and to the folks working on the committee,” Johnson said. “It will also serve as our resource manual. So as we get three or four months down the road, hopefully people will be able to look on there and see what’s going on and how they can participate and how they can help direct it.”

A report released in April titled, “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, A Healthier Nation, County by County,” shows Scioto County as one of Ohio’s unhealthiest counties.

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.

Scioto County ranks 87th out of 88th for health outcomes and 88th for health factors.

“Another thing we have noticed is, looking at our problems holistically, it is one thing for us to realize holistically that it’s more than just congestive heart failure (CHF) and hypertension that are contributing to our poor health statistics. It is one thing for us to realize that,” Johnson said. “It’s another thing to convey to the public that it is more than just health.”

Johnson said the health factors are all affected by lifestyle choices.

“So we need economic development,” Johnson said. “We need to strategically plan what goes on in our city and our county. When we look at our region, the lack of economic opportunity did not just happen in the last five years. It’s decade after decade of economic decline. We need to turn that around. Giving people jobs is giving people access to health insurance; gives people access to exercise facilities; it gives people hope and greater self esteem. All of these things contribute to turning things around. We are talking about changing our attitude and how we view ourselves.”

Johnson said in order for that to be accomplished, there is a need for complete cooperation across county and state lines.

“We need everybody to have an open, creative mind,” Johnson said. “How do we make things better in general, and then things will start to improve in our health indices.”

According to a report by Joshua Sherwood, Regional Epidemiologist for the Pike County General Health District, one of Scioto County’s statistics deals with smoking.

“Each year approximately 443,000 premature deaths occur primarily due to smoking. Cigarette smoking is identified as a cause in multiple diseases including various cancers, cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, low birth weight, and other adverse health outcomes. Measuring the prevalence of tobacco use in the population can alert communities to potential adverse health outcomes and can be valuable for assessing the need for cessation programs or the effectiveness of existing programs,” Sherwood said in his report, adding, 36 percent of Scioto County residents smoke, compared to 22 percent statewide and 14 percent nationally.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com