Appalachian District Health Department Releases Statement on Health Rankings for Ashe, Watauga

Published Friday, March 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm

ADHDMarch 22, 2013. Below is two press releases from the Appalachian District Health Department on the topic of the annual county health rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wisconsin Health Institute. ADHD covers Ashe, Watauga and Alleghany counties. 

Also, see the High Country Press article about the rankings in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties and how they compare to the state average.


Watauga Ranks Third Healthiest County in State

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Wisconsin Population Health Institute have released the County Health Rankings for 2013. According to this fourth year of rankings, Watauga County is the 3rd healthiest in North Carolina.

The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. Nationally, the data revealed that unhealthy counties have more than twice the rate of premature deaths than healthy ones and childhood poverty rates are twice as high in unhealthy counties. The Rankings allow counties to see how they compare to other counties within the state based on a range of factors that influence health including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. This year’s Rankings include new measures, such as how many dentists are in a community per resident.

The Rankings include a snapshot of each county in North Carolina with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. There are also new county-level trend graphs detailing change over time for several of the measures, including children in poverty, unemployment, and quality of care.

“The key message for us to take away from the County Health Rankings is where we live matters to our health. It is not only health care services that influence our health, but many other factors including quality education, economic development, plans and policies that include health as a cornerstone all play a part,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director.

In Watauga County specifically, there are areas where the county is doing well in comparison with the rest of the state such as high school graduation, teen births, and violent crime. “We celebrate the positive news from this release. Clearly, there are things Watauga County is doing right. However, we have a responsibility to use this data, along with the community health assessment to drive us toward more collaborative efforts that seek to address root causes of health problems and community issues that impact our health,” said Jennifer Greene, Director of Allied Health Services. 

Other positives Greene highlighted include the Town of Boone’s efforts to create a more active community through the development of more safe walking and bicycling opportunities, many non-profit organizations promoting healthy living, and Watauga County Schools’ efforts to bring the community together to provide supports for teachers, parents, and students to address health concerns that affect youth.

According to the 2011 Watauga County Community Health Assessment and the latest State of the District’s Health report, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease claim the lives of most of Watauga County residents.

The County Health Rankings identifies some key areas where Watauga may continue improving health outcomes such as adult smoking, obesity, excessive drinking, and uninsured individuals. “This report reminds us all the importance of community collaboration to address complex health issues such as these. There are many positive examples of this collaboration happening all around us, including the High Country Vision Council addressing income, education, and health, and The Watauga County Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative addressing under alcohol and prescription drug abuse and misuse. This is a key strength of the community that helps us achieve healthier outcomes,” said Greene.

To learn more about the County Health Rankings visit www.countyhealthrankings.org. Additionally, to learn more about Watauga County health data, resources, and projects you can be involved in, visit www.apphealth.com or contact the Watauga County office of Appalachian District Health Department at (828) 264.4995. 


Ashe County Ranks 42nd

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Wisconsin Population Health Institute have released the County Health Rankings for 2013. According to this fourth year of rankings, Ashe County ranks at 42 among all 100 counties in North Carolina.

The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. Nationally, the data revealed that unhealthy counties have more than twice the rate of premature deaths than healthy ones and childhood poverty rates are twice as high in unhealthy counties. The Rankings allow counties to see how they compare to other counties within the state based on a range of factors that influence health including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. This year’s Rankings include new measures, such as how many dentists are in a community per resident.

The Rankings include a snapshot of each county in North Carolina with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. There are also new county-level trend graphs detailing change over time for several of the measures, including children in poverty, unemployment, and quality of care.

“The key message for us to take away from the County Health Rankings is where we live matters to our health. It is not only health care services that influence our health, but many other factors including quality education, economic development, plans and policies that include health as a cornerstone all play a part,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director.

In Ashe County specifically, there are areas where the county is doing as well or better in comparison with the rest of the state such as high school graduation, mammography screening, and violent crime. “Clearly, there are things Ashe County is doing right. However, we have a responsibility to use this data, along with the community health assessment to drive us toward more collaborative efforts that seek to address root causes of health problems and community issues that impact our health,” said Jennifer Greene, Director of Allied Health Services. 

Other positives Greene highlighted include the promotion of safe pedestrian active transportation at the town of West Jefferson, Ashe County Schools’ strategic plan and school health advisory council working to improve health and education of Ashe County youth, the School Based Health Center at Ashe County Middle school serving youth in a variety of ways, and the collaborative efforts of the Ashe Health Alliance seeking to address access to healthcare, mental health, suicide and depression prevention and awareness, and obesity and tobacco prevention. 

According to the 2011 Ashe County Community Health Assessment and the latest State of the District’s Health report, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease claim the lives of most of Ashe County residents.

The County Health Rankings identifies some key areas where Ashe may continue improving health outcomes such as adult smoking, obesity, children in poverty, and uninsured individuals. “This report reminds us all the importance of community collaboration to address complex health issues such as these. There are many positive examples of this collaboration happening all around us, including the collaboration happening with Ashe Healthnet and the Mental Health Roundtable, both part of Ashe Health Alliance, addressing some key community health needs. This is a key strength of the community that helps us achieve healthier outcomes,” said Greene.

To learn more about the County Health Rankings visit www.countyhealthrankings.org. Additionally, to learn more about Ashe County health data, Ashe Health Alliance, resources, and projects you can be involved in, visit www.apphealth.com or contact Robert Wadden at the Ashe County office of Appalachian District Health Department at (336) 246-9449.

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