Health rankings released

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

Wendi Waugh, administrative director of SOMC Cancer Services and Community Health & Wellness, recently noticed more people out moving around, walking their dogs and socializing in the community, which is one of the reasons she maintains a positive attitude at a time when health rankings from the state would put anyone else in a negative mood.

“We’re on the right track and we have to stay the course,” Waugh said. “We can’t allow the fact that the needle didn’t move this year in a positive direction.”

Waugh was referring to the latest figures, which show Scioto County at or near the bottom in several categories.

In Health Outcomes, Scioto County went from 83rd in 2016 to 86th in 2017. In health factors, the county did not move the needle at all, staying at 88th the last two years.

Waugh says making a year-to-year comparison may not be the best way to measure progress when it comes to health tendencies.

“When you go to the website for the county health rankings in general, they are very specific in saying that these action plans need to be in place for years before you actually see the results” Waugh said. “This is not something that happens overnight. Everyone’s looking for that quick solution, and this is a long-term journey and marathon to change our lifestyles and to change a culture here in Appalachia.”

One of the examples is in this year’s health rankings.

“What you also have to be concerned with about the rankings is everyone else is trying to change too, so it’s not about whether we’re 87th or 86th,but it’s about the number moving,” Waugh said. “So when you sort of look at, for example smoking, over time, you can definitely see in 2010, we had 35 percent of the people in our community smoking and we’ve got 25 percent of the community smoking now. So there are less people smoking.”

Those who know Waugh know she is all about motivation, so she was asked about the worst case scenario –

What if you are a couch potato and want to change that? Where do you start?

You get up during every commercial, and let’s face it, there’s a lot of them, and walk around the house so you’re not sitting for hours at a time,” Waugh said. “There’s a lot of evidence now that they refer to sitting as the new smoking. I tell people set an alarm on your phone that just tells you to get up every 15 minutes and walk 200 steps, get a glass of water, stretch your back, move. It’s simple. You don’t have to go to a gym to get the benefits of starting to move.”

She said it is also important to surround yourself with people with the same goals to make changes in their lifestyles.

Waugh said there are other basic things that can be done to go in a positive direction as far as your health is concerned.

“I really recommend that people just start exactly where they are,” Waugh said. “That might be just eliminating soda, sugary drinks from their diet. Once they’ve done that, and they’ve done that successfully for at least 90 days, then, maybe they can try to change the next bad habit, and maybe that’s just eliminating potato chips.”

Scioto County was down in alcohol-impaired driving deaths, going from 30 percent in 2016 to 25 percent in 2017, and in sexually transmitted infections dropping from 277.8 in 2016 to 212,4 in 2017. She said the way mortality is calculated is based on the average life being 75 years of age. That number gained a figure in 2017 going from the mortality level of 80 in 2016 to 81 in 2017.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.