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Health study ranks county 68th

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kim Hyatt
* Ranking up four positions from 2010 review of all counties

A recent study ranks Clay County in the bottom-third of the state's 92 counties regarding health.

Clay County ranked 68th overall out of the state's 92 counties, according to the County Health Rankings -- a collaborative study between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Institute. Updated rankings from all counties among the 50 states were recently released.

"I expected us to be low like that," Clay County Public Health Nurse Kim Hyatt said. "I would like to see us move up closer to the halfway mark."

Several factors are taken into consideration in the rankings. According to reports, counties in each of the states are ranked according to many health measure summaries in addition to being ranked among other counties in their particular state via health outcomes and health factors.

The report stated health outcome rankings were based on length of life (mortality) and quality of life (morbidity) measures, which were split evenly.

Health factors, according to the study, were broken down into four categories, including health behaviors (30 percent), clinical care (20 percent), social and economic factors (40 percent) and physical environment (10 percent).

Each of the categories were broken down further. For example, health behaviors included tobacco use; diet and exercise, alcohol use and unsafe sex practices, while clinical care included access to care and quality of care. Social and economic factors included education, employment, income, family and social support and community safety, while physical environment included environmental quality and built environment.

Among the health outcome rankings, Clay County ranked 46th in morbidity and 75th in mortality.

Among the health factor rankings, Clay County ranked 49th in physical environment, 54th in social and economic factors, 69th in clinical care and 85th in health behaviors.

Ranking each county in both the health outcomes and health factors categories, Clay County ranked 62nd in health outcomes and 77th in health factors.

Hamilton County was the top-rated Indiana county among health outcomes and health factors.

Among neighboring counties, Putnam ranked 12th in health outcomes and 31st in health factors, Greene ranked 68th in health factors and 80th in health outcomes, Vigo was 58th in health outcomes and 75th in health factors, Owen was 39th in health outcomes and 87th in health factors, and Parke County was 69th in health factors and 73rd in health outcomes.

The study showed the top 10 healthiest counties in the state are Hamilton, Hendricks, Dubois, Boone, LaGrange, Warrick, Whitley, Marshall, DeKalb and Wells, while the unhealthiest counties were Crawford, Lake, Fayette, Perry, Sullivan, Pike, Martin, Switzerland, Starke and Scott.

According to this year's study, among health outcomes, 31 percent of Clay County adults smoke and 31 percent are obese.

However, the county moved up four spots in health outcomes from last year's study, something Hyatt said was "positive."

"People need to want to take these steps, to quit smoking or to lose weight," she said. "Anytime we can move up, that's good. It's only four spots, but we'll take it."

The 2010 study found Clay County ranked 68th in health outcomes and 81st in health factors.

Hyatt added income and insurance are key factors in how people view and deal with health issues.

"There are a lot of people that come in here and don't have insurance," she said. "There's not a lot of resources out there for them."

Hyatt said she believed more community involvement and an in crease in resources would help the county move up in the rankings. She added the Clay County Health Department is working with women's health groups based at Indiana University in addition to offering its smoking cessation program, both of which are good starts.

Results from the study may be accessed at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

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Recently I was diagnosed with cancer. Three of my neighbors have cancer. When I went for biopsy I was told that Clay County had one of the highest cancer rates in the state. Not exactly a legacy I want to pass on to my children. By the way, I have never smoked in my life. Maybe we need to find other excuses to blame health on other than the old standards. Wondering if a lot of it has to do with all the coal mines in Clay County. Just guessing, but we have to start somewhere.

-- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Wed, Mar 30, 2011, at 10:30 PM

I have Multiple Sclerosis and from what I've been able to find, and what I've been told, Clay County also has a fairly high per capita rate of MS. Makes you really wonder about the environment here.

-- Posted by asil on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 7:42 AM

I would like to see the results of people who are getting these diseases who are on public water system vs private wells and what the public water system is checked for. We check our well every few years for heavy metals and agricultural run off. Does public water do the same? We have been already told NOT to eat the fish caught in strip pits in the area due to high heavy metal contamination from mining industry. How many realize that?? Then if all remember there was the incident where a bunch of cattle died near Center Pint years ago...What was dumped in the former landfill and is it still leaking out and is it connected to any public water supply??

I know that even the private septic laws are in grandfather clause stage and there are still homes in country with raw sewage running into open ditches...Our was when we looked at our house to buy in 1995 [of course it was fixed before we moved in but how many aren't??].

While that might not lead to chemical contamination of our water supply, the fact that raw sewage is in our water makes me fearful that other things may be as well due to poor local regulations in the past. Especially with the high MS rate here. SOMETHING causes it. We just don't know what yet and we know about many carcinogens...How many were dumped in the landfill? How many might an unethical farmer have dumped "out back" some where. Now I am not saying that farmers are a bad lot. It just takes one or two to contaminate the environment and it's all connected.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 10:21 AM

My mother was another one who died of Cancer and I've known many other friends who have died or been diagnosed with Cancer as well.

Interesting point JENNY brings up .. which is why I do not drink the public water .. I don't even allow my DOGS to drink it. You can't water inside plants with it either, as the SALT content causes the outer leaves to turn brown and leaves a salt residue on the soil. Eventually, it kills the plant.

I would love to know what's REALLY in the water.

-- Posted by Emmes on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 11:53 AM

Very good points Jenny.

I can comment on the cattle deaths down by Centerpoint. That was the McCullough farm. The road was oiled to keep the dust down. Somehow the oil mixture seeped into the water table contaminating the water. Then you know the rest of the story. It took the McCullough's several years to actually settle it but of course by then, they had lost their butts and moved to town. Not their fault by no means, Feds and State mostly but it was a huge ordeal for them and such nice folks too.

It does make you wonder about the water though......

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 3:39 PM

Bringing to mind the past occurances really should start serious investigation of finding the REAL CAUSES for all of these horrible diseases. I also know A LOT of people who have died from cancer,and never smoked a cigarette in their life, however, they died from LUNG CANCER. Soooo, can't blame smoking. And the entire water topic is extremely scary. Really does make a person wonder what they're drinking and using in their everyday life. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

-- Posted by JaniLou on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 4:20 PM

Just a note about the water: I lived in town for 33 years and moved to the county 2 years ago. Never had the water in town tested, but my neighbor, that has lung cancer, had his well water tested and it was fine. We do have a creek that runs through our property, but not sure how that would affect anything. Myself and my neighbor both had dogs that died last year after having been diagnosed with numerous cancer tumors.

Really not wanting to leave this as a legacy to my grandkids, but don't know how to go about finding a cause and cure.

-- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 6:00 PM

After reading these posts .. I would like to know the percentage of people in the Clay County area who have been diagnosed with, or died from Cancer (or symptoms thereof).

I don't mean what was put on their death certificate (my mother's said 'congestive heart failure') .. I mean - were they treated for Cancer of ANY type? Did they have city water or well water?

I think the percentage would be staggering.

-- Posted by Emmes on Tue, Apr 5, 2011, at 8:34 PM

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