CATSKILL — Greene County resides in the bottom 25% of New York counties in terms of public health, according to the most recent ranking performed by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Greene County ranks 51st among the 62 counties in the state, according to the report.
Health behaviors, disconnected youth and restricted access to health providers contribute to the county’s low ranking. These factors also contribute to a greater number of premature deaths in the region.
Over three-year period in Greene County, the years of potential life lost before age 75, per 100,000 population, amount to 8,000, compared with the state’s figure of 6,000 per 100,000.
Health-related behaviors show deficits when compared with the state’s, according to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps county snapshot, which reports that county residents lack opportunities for exercise. Sixty-two percent of the region’s residents have “adequate access to locations for physical activity,” the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps figures show.
The scarcity occurs frequently in rural areas because roads in rural settings are often unsafe for walking, said Ericka Burroughs-Girardi, research coordinator at County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.
“Counties have to figure out how to create space for people to be safe and active,” Burroughs-Girardi said.
Another gap in the region’s public health condition includes disconnected youth. Twenty-three percent of Greene County teenagers and young adults ages 16 to 19 are neither working nor in school, according to data collected by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.
Juvenile delinquency cases in Greene County number 13 per 1,000 compared with the state’s 7 per 1,000. The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps lists prevention strategies such as cross-age youth peer mentoring, more organized social, art or physical activities, later middle school and high school start times to increase the amount of sleep and outdoor experiential education and wilderness therapy.
Most significantly, Greene County lacks a sufficient number of health care providers. For every primary care physician, there are 2,780 county residents; for every dentist there are 2,620 residents; and for every mental health provider, there are 1,100 residents.
Partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps annually obtains the latest data available from national institutions such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our data is collected, scrubbed and validated,” said Burroughs-Girardi.
The goal of County Health Rankings and Roadmaps rankings is to improve the health of communities nationwide by influencing the decisions of public health officials and policy-makers. The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps website cites the group’s objective as “growing community power to improve health equity.”
With each measure listed in the county snapshot, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps lists multiple strategies to address the insufficiency. The program also produces a podcast, “In Solidarity,” and hosts webinars such as “Non-partisan strategies to advance health policy,” “Creating prosperous rural communities” and “Why wealth matters to your health.”
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