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Statistics might tell you that the state of Florida has a low prevalence of obesity or a high incidence of Salmonella, but have you ever wondered how health in Orange County compares nationwide? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes you there with the Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) 2015. This interactive web application produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States, providing valuable information for improving community health.
Simply select your state and county to view a full report on how the county rates on health statistics and the factors that influence health, such as health care access and quality, health behaviors, social factors, and the physical environment.
The report automatically generates a comparison to “peer counties” – counties nationwide based on population size, population growth, population density, population mobility, percent children, percent elderly, sex ratio, percent foreign born, percent high school graduates, single parent households, median home value, housing stress, percent owner-occupied housing units, median household income, receipt of government income, household income, overall poverty, elderly poverty, and unemployment.
Orange County shares similar attributes to 43 peer counties nationwide. Each of the stats on the report is compared to these 43 counties and their results. Our peer counties include Alameda, Calif.; Alexandria, Va.; Allegheny, Pa.; Bexar, Texas; Clark, Nev.; Cook, Ill.; Cuyahoga, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Davidson, Tenn.; Denver, Colo.; Duval, Fla.; Erie, N.Y.; Franklin, Ohio; Fulton, Ga.; Hamilton, Ohio; Harris, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; Hennepin, Minn.; Hillsborough, Fla.; Jackson, Mo.; Jefferson, Ala.; Jefferson, Ky.; King, Wash.; Maricopa, Ariz.; Marion, Ind.; Mecklenburg, N.C.; Monroe, N.Y.; Multnomah, Ore.; Oklahoma, Okla.; Orange, Calif.; Pinellas, Fla.; Ramsey, Minn.; Richmond, N.Y.; Riverside, Calif.; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake, Utah; San Diego, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; Santa Clara, Calif.; Tarrant, Texas; Travis, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Va.
Orange County: better and moderate rankings
Stacking up against our peer counties, we see a few areas where we fall above the curve, namely a low number of stroke deaths, adult binge drinking, adult female routine pap tests, and annual average PM 2.5 concentration (air pollution).
We fall in the middle two quartiles (moderate) level for a majority of the results, including alzheimer’s disease deaths, cancer deaths, chronic kidney disease deaths, chronic lower respiratory disease deaths, coronary heart disease deaths, diabetes deaths, female life expectancy, male life expectancy, unintentional injury (including motor vehicle), adult diabetes, adult obesity, adult overall health status, cancer, gonorrhea, older adult asthma, older adult depression, syphilis, primary care provider access, adult smoking, teen births, children in single parent households, inadequate social support, on time high school graduation, poverty, unemployment, limited access to healthy food, and living near highways.
So that’s the good and the okay news. Where are we falling short?
Orange County: least favorable quartile
Orange County ranks in the least favorable quartile on a number of health indicators, including motor vehicle deaths, Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, HIV, preterm births, cost barrier to care, older adult preventable hospitalizations, uninsured, adult physical inactivity, high housing costs, violent crime, access to parks, drinking water violations and housing stress.
Breaking it down, that means we lose 12.9 people per 100,000 to motor vehicle deaths in Orange County every year. We care for 13.7 percent of our seniors living with dementia. There are 758 per 100,000 people diagnosed with HIV. We pray for 14.6 percent of preterm births. Last year, 17.2 percent of adults did not see a doctor due to cost. We could have prevented 71.8 per 1,000 older adult hospitalizations. Nearly one-quarter of Orange County lives without health insurance. A quarter of Orange County reports no leisure time physical activity. Almost half report high housing costs. We live with 729.7 per 100,000 violent crimes like homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. We rank the lowest in our peer group for access to parks – only 13 percent live within half a mile of a park. One percent of our population could potentially be exposed to water exceeding a health violation limit. Almost half defines their housing as stressed.
CHSI 2015 identifies its goals to improve the ability of stakeholders to:
1) Assess community health status and identify disparities;
2) Promote a shared understanding of the wide range of factors that are associated with health; and
3) Mobilize multi-sector partnerships to work collaboratively to improve population health.
Now that we know where we’re falling short in comparison to other similar counties nationwide, mobilizing partnerships to work collaboratively to improve health should be Orange County’s primary goal. The CDC has established the relationship between public health and the built environment, and encourages health professionals and urban planners to join together to create healthier communities.
We have the opportunity for improvement where we ranked poorly by promoting and championing the design of healthier communities. The benefits include increasing housing and educational opportunities, promote access to healthy foods and physical activity, and encouraging mixed-use development and complete streets programs – meaning striving for a healthier, happier, and safer Central Florida.