The county was examined based on 35 factors, some social & economic.
Frederick, Md (KM). Frederick County continues to rank very high when it comes to health factors. A report called “2017 County Rankings” published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute shows that the county comes in number three compared to the rest of Maryland based on health factors.
Howard and Montgomery Counties rank numbers one and two respectively, according to the report.
“I’m not surprised because since those two organizations have been publishing the county health rankings, we’ve been performing at that same level,” says Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer.
The two organizations say that where we live matters to our health, and good health is influenced by such factors as housing, education, jobs, access to healthy foods and more; not just access to medical care.
The report also examines 35 indicators which impact health, such as rates of childhood poverty, rates of smoking, obesity levels, access to physicians and dentists, rates of high school graduation and college attendance, and levels of physical inactivity.
Dr. Brookmyer says the report gave Frederick County good marks when it comes alcohol-impaired driving deaths, which dropped from 29% to 21%. “We’ve actually improved a little bit there, but we’re still a lot higher than what we’d like to be,” says Dr. Brookmyer. “We have also seen a slight improvement in access to mammograms, which we’d like to see more of.”
The study also said the percentage of people under 65 without health insurance has reached an all time low at 7%, and the ratio of primary care physicians to the county’s population has improved since the rankings began.
But the report says Frederick County needs to do more when it comes to smoking by adults. “We have made significant progress over the years in reducing the percent of adults who smoke,” says Dr. Brookmyer. “But we still have adults who smoke. We still have women who are pregnant who are smoking, and we still have young persons who choose to start smoking.”
However, Dr. Brookmyer says efforts are underway to get smokers to kick their habit, and young people not to start. “Frederick County Health Department as well as the Smoke Free Coalition, and other partners throughout the community, including Frederick County Public Schools and the Frederick Regional Health System, continue to try to make widely available smoking cessation tools and aids and resources, and we also try to provide prevention education to prevent first use,’ she says.
The Health Department says the Preventive Health Program in the Community Health Services Division has been working with community providers to improve mammogram screening rates through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. The Preventive Health Program also started the Prevent T2 Program to work with individuals who are pre-diabetic. The study also said the County still has a problem with access to mammogram screening, and obesity.
Dr. Brookmyer says measuring success in health means not just increasing access to medical care, but addressing social and economic problems as well, such as childhood poverty, the safety of a neighborhood, educational levels and the modes of transportation people use, such as their own cars, carpooling or taking public transportation. In addition, “your housing, the safety of your housing, the environment of it, the proximity of other services that you might want, and your income is also related to your ability to access health care, and access quality health care, timely health care,” she said.
By Kevin McManus