The Lorain County health community is looking at its priorities and refocusing on others after new data revealed the county’s health status.
People with low incomes are more likely to rank their health as poor and to be obese. They also are more likely to be uninsured and to be diagnosed with diabetes.
In urban areas, women were less likely to have had a health exam and people were more likely to have high-blood pressure.
Ten percent of residents, about 22,000 people, did not have health insurance, with higher numbers among those younger than 30 and those with lower incomes.
On Thursday, the Lorain County Health Partners revealed the results of data collected on both physical and mental health. This is the third time the county has conducted a health assessment, in partnership with local hospitals and county services. The surveys are done every three years.
Officials also addressed how they’ve done on the goals that were set based off the 2015 results.
“It is our hope that this assessment will aid our communities in identifying and further understanding their respective health concerns, measuring the impact of current health efforts, and guiding the appropriate use of local resources,” Dave Covell, health commissioner for Lorain County Public Health, said in the release of the 159-page report.
The National Public Health Accreditation status requires Community Health Assessments to be completed at least every five years. Lorain County conducts its assessments every three years.
Respondents’ perceptions of their health improved from the last two surveys, with 49 percent saying their health was excellent. In the subset groups, the numbers worsened for those with an annual income less than $25,000 and those living in urban areas.
In mental health, people younger than 30 were more likely to report feeling depressed for two or more weeks in a row. However, the overall results were improved from the 2015 results, with 13 percent reporting feelings of depression as compared to 20 percent in 2015.
In 2018, 4 percent of adults considered attempting suicide, on par with the previous two survey results.
Nearly half of the 12th-graders surveyed and a fourth of sixth-graders reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row.
Kathleen Kerns, the director of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, said the county has done some programs in middle schools and high schools, but she was disappointed to see the numbers on youth mental health.
Kerns said there needs to be more education around the issue as well as easy access to help. She cited stigma as a major factor in not getting help and said the county needs to be talking about mental health.
Kerns also said the county has many programs to help, but that can be overwhelming for some people.
For both youths and adults, smoking numbers went down, but Paul Forthofer, manager of community outreach at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, cautioned about e-cigarettes and vaping because he said many teens do not view that as smoking.
Catherine Woskobnick, vice president of mission and values integration at Mercy Health Lorain Hospital, talked about how transportation creates a barrier in access to health care. Lorain County does not have a busing system, which Woskobnick said prevents some people from getting the care they need.
“How do you get your patients home?” she asked.
One area in which the county has done well in is decreasing infant mortality rates. The rates are based off of five-year averages for infants from the age of birth to 1. The numbers are based off one death per 1,000 infants.
Lorain County dropped from 7.2 to 5.8 in about 10 years for infant mortality rates and for African-Americans, where the numbers are much higher, the county dropped from 21.7 to 8.6 in about 10 years. The current state average for infant mortality among African-Americans is 14.7.
The adult data was conducted using written surveys in a four-wave mailing campaign. The response rate was 29 percent with a margin of error of about 4 percent.
In the demographics of the survey, 77 percent of respondents were white and 13 percent were African-American.
The survey was conducted in 2018 by the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio and the youth survey was conducted by the Communities That Care of Lorain County in fall 2018 in four grades.
As for the plan for what comes next, Covell said they will have their next goals and plans set by fall 2019 based off of the new data released.