Suwannee’s health ranks near bottom

Suwannee Democrat
By Bryant Thigpen

Suwannee County has been ranked 53 out of 67 counties in Florida regarding the overall health status of the county, according to recent data released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Suwannee County’s ranking did improve from last year which was ranked at 54.

Union County was ranked this year at 67.

According to a press release by the Florida Department of Health, this study highlights the many community factors that influence health. These rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and they emphasize that health is not a singular but a combined work in progress across all community partners.

The overall ranking considers many categories under sections “health outcomes” and “health factors”, such as length of life, quality of life, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

The following data is based on the county’s rank out of 67 counties in Florida, with one being the best rating achievable.Suwannee County is ranked 53 overall in health outcomes. This includes length of life (premature death), ranked at 56, and quality of life (poor or fair health, poor physical health days, among others), ranked at 50.

Suwannee County ranked 54 overall in health factors. This category takes many factors into consideration such as health behaviors, with a ranking of 52, (adult obesity, adult smoking, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, teen births, among others), clinical care, ranking of 49, (uninsured, primary care physicians, dentists, others), social and economic factors, ranking of 57, (education, employment, inadequate social support, others), and physical environment, ranking of 13, (drinking water violations, severe housing problems, others).

“These rankings provide a ‘snapshot’ of health in our county and are just one of the tools used by the health department and our partner agencies to take action and implement programs to improve health in Suwannee County,” said Pamela Blackmon, administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Lafayette and Suwannee counties. “The rankings highlight obstacles our residents face in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and affirm the work of the Florida Department of Health and partnering agencies in Suwannee County.”

According to FDOH, in Suwannee County, the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is designed to address specific opportunities for improved health that have been identified by the community.
Blackmon said the Suwannee Health Advisory Group (SHAG) meets monthly at the health department to address health issues in the county. At the next meeting on April 8 from 4-5 p.m., the participants will review and discuss the county rankings.

“The focus will be more on comparing Suwannee County health indicators over time rather than where we are ranked compared to other counties,” she said. “Reviewing the trends in health will help us determine if there are areas for improvement that our team is not currently addressing.”

“Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire community to improve health,” Blackmon said.

“Working together, we can make Suwannee County a healthier place to live, learn, work and play.”
For more information, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.

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