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Some Good News for Shelby County in the County Health Rankings

The recently released 2012 County Health Rankings have some good news for Shelby County as well as continuing to point out where we need to focus efforts to improve the overall “health” of our community.

The good news is that Shelby County is improving in some key health measures including:

Fewer people are dying prematurely, from 10,646 in 2010 to 10,334 in 2012
Fewer adults are smoking, from 22% in 2010 to 19% in 2012
Fewer preventable hospitals stays, from a score of 74 in 2010 to 65 in 2012
More people are being screened for diabetes, from 78% in 2010 to 83% in 2012
More women are getting mammograms, from 58% in 2011 to 63% in 2012
More students are graduating from high school, from 67% in 2010 to 71% in 2012
Less violent crime, from 1,529 in 2010 to 1,478 in 2012
Fewer air pollution-particulate matter days from 11 in 2010 to 2 in 2012.

Although we are improving on very important measures, we still face challenges and even more improvement is needed in key areas, including:

Premature death still remains almost twice the national average
We still report significantly more “poor or fair health” at 6 points higher than the national benchmark of 10%
Our adult obesity rate of 34%, although having remained stable for three years, is still 9 points higher than the national benchmark
The sexually transmitted infections rate continues to increase each year and at 1,194 in 2012 is significantly higher than the national benchmark of 84
Shelby County’s teen birth rate of 66 is 44 points higher than the national benchmark
Although improving, Shelby County is still 16 points higher than the national benchmark for preventable hospital stays
Shelby County has 29% of its children in poverty compared to 13% nationally
Violent crimes are still significantly above the 73 national benchmark.

The County Health Rankings cautions communities not to use the annual rankings as a way to track progress over time because for the measures to be valid across the entire country for all counties of all sizes, many of the measures are based on multiple years of data. For these measures, progress can appear very slow because poor performing years stay in the calculation.

This is a case of looking at the glass as half-full or half-empty. I choose the half-full approach because we appear to be making progress in some key areas. Some other areas have remained stable over time – stable at a poor level of performance, but at least they are not getting worse. Not getting worse is the first step to actually improving.

I also see collaborative initiatives across the community that, if successful, will have a positive impact on these scores moving forward. So, to me, there is a lot of hope in these rankings, although still a lot of challenge lies ahead for us.

Snapshots for Shelby County from the County Health Rankings are available by clicking below:

2010 Shelby County Health Ranking Snapshot
2011 Shelby County Health Ranking Snapshot
2012 Shelby County Health Ranking Snapshot

Learn more about the County Health Rankings and see performance for other counties across the country.

Posted by Cristie Travis at 11:43 AM

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