Article Contributed by
Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services
Among 62 New York State counties, Chautauqua ranks 59 in the category of Health Outcomes and 55 in the category of Health Factors, according to a report released this week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This year’s Health Factors rank is slightly better than the ranking of 57 in 2018, and the Health Outcomes ranking is slightly worse than the ranking of 58 in 2018.
“These rankings are a call to action- an opportunity for not only our department, but for leaders across the county and region to consider the role we all play in creating healthy spaces for our residents to thrive, regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level,” said Christine Schuyler, Director of Health and Human Services for Chautauqua County. “It’s my hope that leaders thoughtfully and systematically create opportunities to make our communities healthier.”
The Health Outcomes category focuses on length and quality of life and looks at factors such as premature death, number of poor physical and mental health days, and occurrence of low birth weight among babies. A higher rate of premature death was seen compared to many other counties in New York State (Chautauqua rank = 62), which looks at the years of potential life lost rate (deaths prior to age 75). Premature death in Chautauqua County is primarily due to heart disease, cancer, suicide, and fatal drug overdoses. Deaths to younger people impact the rate greater than deaths of older people, such as 65 year olds who have heart attacks.
The Health Factors category consists of subcategories including health behaviors (smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, etc.), clinical care, social and economic factors (unemployment, education, crime, etc.), and the physical environment (built environment and quality of environment).
In the Health Behaviors subcategory, Chautauqua County ranked as 59 out of 62 counties, largely due to elevated rates of adults who smoke (24 percent) and adults who are obese (33 percent), according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys. The County’s high teen birth rate of 27 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 (compared to 16 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in New York State) also factored into the poor rank.
Chautauqua County’s best rank was as number 22 in the Physical Environment subcategory. The absence of public drinking water violations, short commute times, and a lower severe housing problem rate contribute to this good ranking.
Health Report Card Shows Need for Action
As a snapshot of Chautauqua County, the 2019 report says:
- 24 percent of adults smoke, compared to 14 percent statewide.
- 33 percent of adults are obese, compared to 26 percent statewide.
- Premature death (measured as years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population) – 8,000 years compared to 5,400 years statewide.
- 81 percent of adults have access to exercise opportunities, compared to 93 percent statewide.
- 28 percent of alcohol impaired driving deaths, compared to 22 percent statewide.
- 37 percent of children are raised in a single-parent household, compared to 34 percent statewide.
- 28 percent of children live in poverty, compared to 20 percent statewide.
- 81 percent of people drive to work alone, compared to 53 percent statewide.
- 19 percent of people who drive alone have a long commute, compared to 38 percent statewide.
- 9.6 days with high levels of particulate matter in the air (air pollution), compared to 8.5 days statewide
- 6 percent uninsured, compared to 7 percent statewide.
- The ratio of patients to primary care providers was 1,770:1, compared to 1,200:1 statewide.
- The ratio of patients to dentists was 1,770:1, compared to 1,230:1 statewide.
- The ratio of patients to mental health providers was 670:1, compared to 310:1 statewide.
- 47 percent mammography screening rate, compared to 41 percent statewide.
- 7 percent of babies were low birthweight, compared to 8 percent statewide.
- 27 teen births per 1,000 females aged 15-19, compared to 18 statewide.
- 412.1 cases of Chlamydia (sexually transmitted disease) per 100,000 population, compared to 552.8 statewide.
83 percent graduate from high school, compared to 82 percent statewide.
- 6.1 percent unemployment rate, compared to 4.7 percent statewide.
- 271 violent crime rate per 100,000 population, compared to 379 statewide.
- 66 injury death rate per 100,000 population, compared to 47 statewide.
Chautauqua County’s second best rank was in the Clinical Care subcategory, ranked 28 out of the 62 counties.
Contributing to this positive measure were a lower percentage of individuals uninsured, a relatively high percentage of female Medicare enrollees who had received an annual mammography, and an above average percentage of Medicare. This rank also considers patient to provider ratios and diabetes monitoring.
The subcategory of Social and Economic Factors is an area for improvement, with a rank of 56 out of 62. High rates of children living in poverty, unemployment, and a relatively high injury death rate (which includes death by overdose and suicide, for example) negatively influenced our ranking in this subcategory, while a high rate of social associations and a relatively low violent crime rate benefitted the county’s rank.
“Addressing poverty is a long-term approach that will ultimately improve our rankings in a number of different areas,” said Schuyler. “In the short-term, we need to continue to address the drug epidemic, adopt evidence- based policies that impact access to tobacco and nicotine products and deter poor food choices among residents.”
The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services is currently examining local health outcomes in their community health assessment, and will be updating the Community Health Improvement Plan this year with many community partners.
“Many collaborative efforts to help us positively impact the health and welfare of all are underway throughout our communities,” said Schuyler. “Along with that, individuals need to take responsibility for their own health and well-being and that of their loved ones – this includes making good lifestyle and behavior choices.”
The Chautauqua County Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan update for 2016-2018 are available online at: www.healthychq.com. The online County Health Rankings report is available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.