Hospitals to join health assessment

Feb. 18, 2013 @ 09:46 PM

Hospitals will participate this year in a community health assessment that could go deeper than ever before.
Based on data derived from health reports and community focus groups, area hospitals along with public health departments will have to offer improvement plans, Mark Smith, epidemiologist for the Guilford County Department of Public Health, told the Board of Health on Monday.
“The Health Reform Act requires hospitals to offer a benefit plan,” Smith said. “There will be activity to implement the plan to improve the health of the community. The hospitals will report to the IRS.”
Foundations are expected to contribute funding for health improvement plans, Smith said.
Guilford County improved to 9th in 2012 for overall health among the state’s 100 counties, up from 10th in 2011, according to the latest report from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 
Davidson County ranked 50th and Randolph 35th. No Triad counties were on the list of the 10 least healthy in the state. Guilford ranked 24th in health factors, which include health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors. Davidson County was 62nd and Randolph 42nd.
Guilford ranked higher than the state in poverty, violent crime and sexually transmitted diseases, according to the report.
“We are a county with a lot of resources and should be doing better,” Smith said. 
Overall, the healthiest people are found along the state’s urban corridors.
The healthiest 10 counties in the state are Wake, Orange, Union, Mecklenburg, Dare, Watauga, Cabarrus, Durham, Guilford and New Hanover.  But there are deprived pockets in even the healthiest counties.
“We have racial and poverty disparities,” Smith said.
The disparities affect the county’s rates for sexually transmitted diseases that exceed state rates and obesity. Guilford County has 27 percent of children living below federal poverty guidelines, slightly higher than the state’s rate of 25 percent, but well above the national benchmark of 13 percent. The obesity rate is 28 percent of adults, one percent below the state average. Reported violent offenses at 655 per 100,000 offenses is above the state rate of 448 and well above the benchmark of 73.
Although the county is at 19 percent is just one percent above the state rate of people with no health insurance, the number of people per primary care physician is 780, lower than the state rate of 859. That could be a good sign for progress, Smith said.
In the coming months, community representatives, and health experts will identify the key health issues and “form strategies that can address the issues,” Smith said. 

Health Improvements

Births: Live births in Guilford County increased slightly from 6,003 in 2010 to 6,049 in 2011, reversing a two-year downward trend from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, 45 babies died during their first year of life, down from 57 in 2010.

Teen Pregnancies:  The teen pregnancy rate among 15 to 19-year-old women in 2011 was 35.6 cases per 1,000 females, down from 41.7 in  2010.