St. Charles 10th healthiest parish in state

February 24, 2010 at 8:54 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

St. Charles Parish was named as the tenth healthiest parish in Louisiana, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

St. Tammany was named the healthiest parish, followed by Vernon, Cameron,  Bossier and Lafayette. Madison Parish was named the unhealthiest area in the state.

Mark Keiser, the executive director of the St. Charles Community Health Center, said the results of the study are not surprising, especially since areas with good average income levels tend to rank high in any health study.

“Generally speaking, population groups that have a relatively higher percent of low income people residing in that specific area tend to score low on these types of studies,” he said. “This parish is probably in the top ten parishes in the state in ‘average income’ and thus would score in a similar way on a ‘health index.’”

Hospital spokesman Brandon Kelly said that the report does provide confirmation that services offered by both St. Charles Parish Hospital and the health center are having a positive impact in the community.

“Specific efforts by our two agencies have included expanded primary care and behavioral services for adults and children, obstetrical and gynecological care for women, preventative dental care and expanded specialty medical services in the areas of nephrology, surgery and neurology,” he said.

To compile the rankings, the institute examined such factors as mortality rate, access to clinical care, alcohol use, environmental quality, and family and social support.

Using that information, the institute broke down rankings for every parish in a variety of areas. For example, mortality rate was based upon the measure of premature death, which includes the percentage of those who die before the age of 75. St. Charles finished 17th out of 64 parishes in that ranking, but was ninth in morbidity, which was based on self-reported fair or poor health, poor physical health days, poor mental health days and the percentage of births with low birthweight.

The parish was also ranked 28th in health behaviors, which includes the measure of smoking, diet, exercise, alcohol use and risky sex behavior. As far as access to clinical care, the parish ranked 25th.

“Continued improvement efforts will be targeted through further evaluation of the study data and planning efforts by our agencies,” Kelly said.

The parish’s best marks came in social and economic factors, where it finished fourth. That ranking was based on measures of education, employment, income, family and social support, and community safety.

The parish’s worst ranking (50th) was in physical environment, which was based partly on environmental quality.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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