07medicalThe health of Cumberland County residents is improving, but a new statistical report of Cumberland County’s overall health ranking leaves a lot of unanswered questions — mostly in the “why” category. The report indicates overall health outcomes improved slightly from 75 to 73 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The rankings were released by “County Health Rankings,” a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute program. 

Health rankings provide a comparison of the overall health of nearly every county in the nation and how a community’s overall ranking is influenced by the length and quality of life, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. 

“Community health rankings are a useful tool from a public health perspective,” said Duane Holder, interim Cumberland County health director. “It shows that community partners need to work together because many of these factors cannot be addressed on the individual level. The rankings show us where we live matters.” 

Cumberland County scored high in the area of clinical care, ranking 40th in the state. Data indicates, however, that the percentage of county residents who are uninsured is less than the state. They also show that the county’s patient-to-provider ratios, to include dental and mental health care, are lower than the state average. 

Cumberland County saw a decrease in premature deaths and improvement in the “length of life” category. The rankings also indicated areas for improvement, including smoking and adult obesity. The Health Department has identified exercise, nutrition and weight and respiratory disease as two of the nine priority areas as part of the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment process. 

These priorities also include: access to health services; economy; immunizations and infectious diseases; occupational and environmental health; other chronic diseases; public safety; respiratory disease; and substance abuse. The Health Department will focus on these priorities over the next three years. 

Sexually transmitted disease rates in the county declined from the previous year but still show a need for improvement. In October, the Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic at the Health Department extended its hours on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Regular hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic also increased its community outreach efforts. 

The department is seeking the public’s opinion in the ranking of importance of the priorities. “A good health status … influences the county in all aspects of daily living,” said Holder. Residents are asked to take a few minutes to complete a survey online. To access the survey in English, go to surveymonkey.com/r/CCDPHCHNA. For a Spanish version, go to surveymonkey.com/r/CCDPHCHNAS. 

The full rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org. 

More information about the Cumberland County Department of Public Health’s programs and services, health-related data or community resources are available by phone at 910-433-3600. Or, visit the information desk at the health department office building, 1235 Ramsey St. The website is co.cumberland. nc.us/health.aspx. Comments are welcome and can be submitted on the website at co.cumberland.nc.us/ feedback. 

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