Thursday, April 3, 2014

Unhealthy NEPA

Health rankings are nothing new. Several national organizations and government agencies do population studies and report on various health behaviors, obesity, general wellbeing, etc. One that drills down to county level is the “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps” program, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin population Health Institute. Their 2014 results were just released and NEPA does not fare well.

 For “Total Health Outcomes” (length of life and premature death) Luzerne County ranked 57, Lackawanna County ranked 56, and Wyoming County ranked 54 out of 67 Pennsylvania counties. Monroe County did a little better overall coming in at 30. In “Social & Economic Factors” which include high school graduation, unemployment, poverty, crime, injury deaths, etc., Luzerne County ranked 63, Lackawanna County ranked 43, Monroe County ranked 50, and Wyoming County ranked 56. Each county’s unemployment rate, percentage of children in poverty, and children in single-parent households were well above the Pennsylvania average.

The NEPA population engages in unhealthy behaviors. Each county was above the Pennsylvania average in smoking physical inactivity, and excessive drinking. Lackawanna and Wyoming counties had higher than average alcohol-impaired driving deaths with Wyoming County well above the average.  All three counties were below the average in access to exercise opportunities with Wyoming County at only 7%. (Pennsylvania's average is 80%.)On a more positive note, all counties were well below the average in sexually transmitted infections.

NEPA did better in “Clinical Care,” which includes percentage of uninsured; primary care physician, dens, dentists, and mental health provider ratios; preventable hospital stays, diabetic and mammography screening. Luzerne County ranked 28, Lackawanna County ranked 27, and Wyoming County ranked 40; however, Monroe County raked 56.The number of mental health providers for all three counties was well below the Pennsylvania average.

NEPA also did well in the “Physical Environment” rankings, which includes air pollution, drinking water violations, housing shortages, and commuting. Here Luzerne County ranked 14, Lackawanna County ranked 4 and Wyoming County ranked 7; however, Monroe County ranked 49.

The rankings and more information regarding the methodology is at

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