A new study has ranked Richmond County as one of the unhealthiest counties in North Carolina.
The University of Wisconsin, in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released the rankings based on 25 health factors. These factors measured adult obesity, adult smoking, drinking, motor vehicle crash death rate, high school graduation, unemployment, children in poverty, children in single-parent households, access to healthy foods and access to recreational facilities. According to Tommy Jarrell, director of the Richmond County Health Department, this is an annual report that studies all of the counties across the nation.
Richmond County ranked 89 out of the 100 counties in North Carolina.
“I think the bottom line is that it does reinforce, to all of us, that our health is affected by all of these factors,” Jarrell said.
“These 25 factors have a direct impact on the health in our community, we can’t ignore any of them. We have to work to continually address these problems,” he said.
The study found in Richmond County, 28 percent of the population smokes, and adult obesity sits at 32 percent.
The percentage of uninsured in Richmond County is 22 percent and, according to the study, there were 108 preventable hospital stays. The percentage of children living in poverty in Richmond County is 38 percent, that is one point more than Columbus County where child poverty is at 37 percent. Both of these numbers are higher than the statewide percentage which is 25 percent.
Roxanne Elliott, policy director with FirstHealth Community Health Services, said the results don’t surprise her. She said the Health Summit, held on Feb. 5, showed some of the same data as this health study. The Richmond County Health Summit was a collaborative effort of Community Care of the Sandhills, Richmond County Health Department, UNC School of Public Health and FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
“The health of Richmond County has a lot of room for improvements,” Elliott said. She pointed out that Richmond County offers a lot of programs geared towards healthy living and helping those who are uninsured, but residents aren’t participating in them.
Jarrell said that although the rank is not a great one, it is a slight improvement from last year’s rank of 90. “That’s not a vast improvement, but it is a little improvement,” he said.
“How do we come together as a community to really move the needle forward on population health,” Elliott asked.
Some of the healthy living programs are Bridge to Wellness, FirstHealth Cares, Medical Access Plan, FirstQuit Tobacco Program, Mobile Health Services, Children’s Dental Clinic, FirstNavistar, Mobile Health Services, People Living Active Year-Round, Compassionate Care Clinic, HealthNet, Pharmacy Assistance Program, Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center, Richmond County Cooperative Extension, Stanford Chronic Disease Management Classes, The Happy Kitchen and Transportation.
Wake County ranked number one in the study and Columbus County ranked 100.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: The original article had an error that has been corrected. This article is the correct version. We apologize for this mistake.