35TH IN U.S. RANKINGS
State of Ohio’s health isn’t getting better, report shows
By Misti Crane THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
It seems like high time for some New Year’s resolutions that you’ll keep, Ohio. The state once again falls near the bottom in a state-by-state health ranking issued yesterday.
Ohio is 35th in the United Health Foundation’s annual report. The nonprofit bases its America’s Health Rankings on several factors, including smoking rates, public-health funding, air pollution, preventable hospitalizations and the percentage of uninsured residents .
Ohio was ranked 36th last year. It has languished near the bottom for the past decade. Only once in that time frame did it rise above 30th — to 26th in 2006.
- One in 4 adults in Ohio smokes, and almost 1 in 3 is obese. Infectious diseases are prevalent, infant mortality is high and so are preventable hospitalizations.
Dr. Theodore Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said that Ohio needs to move away from throwing money at individual programs in an effort to improve its overall health status.
“I need a coordinated, organized system to get at total health for people,” he said.
The state already is working to connect practices throughout Ohio in hopes that sharing information will lead to better care overall, Wymyslo said.
There must be greater focus on prevention and interventions in doctors’ offices and clinics, he said. And health-care providers must be better rewarded for helping Ohioans get healthier, not just for responding to disease when it sickens them, he said.
- Wymyslo said he’s looking to states where spending is lower and health rankings are higher for inspiration as he seeks to improve the health of those living here.
Dr. Richard Gajdowski, medical director for the central Ohio region for UnitedHealthcare, said that Ohio can improve its ranking, but that no one individual entity, be it public health, hospitals or government, will be able to do it alone.
“We have the capacity in this state to improve many of these metrics,” he said. “And if we don’t do anything, we certainly can go lower.”
Vermont was ranked first this year. That state has high high-school graduation rates, low crime rates, low rates of infectious disease and a low prevalence of low-birth-weight babies — all of which contribute to its relative success, according to the foundation.
Mississippi and Louisiana tied for last. Both have been in the bottom three since the foundation began issuing rankings in 1990.
This year, data on behavioral risk factors gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included calls to Americans who have only cellphones in an effort to provide a more accurate picture of health data nationwide.