On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the 2018 County Health Rankings were released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The County Health Rankings provide a snapshot comparing the overall health of nearly every county in the nation demonstrating that where we live influences how well and how long we live.
According to the 2018 County Health Rankings, Pitt County made numerous improvements since the release of last year’s rankings. Among all 100 NC counties, Pitt County’s health outcomes improved moving from the 59th rank in 2017 to the 51st rank in 2018 (100th ranking being the worst county in the State). Length of life or premature death (death before age 75 years) ranked 36th demonstrating improvement from being ranked 40th in 2017. Pitt County’s rank in health factors significantly improved, moving from the 71st to the 58th rank in 2018. Among health behaviors, (adult smoking, adult obesity, food environment index, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, alcohol-impaired deaths, sexually transmitted infections and teen births), Pitt County’s rank moved from 84th to 73rd.
Among social and economic factors, Pitt County ranked 60th, as compared to ranking 67th in 2017. High school graduation rates, college attendance, unemployment, childhood poverty, income inequality, children in single parent households, social associations, violent crimes and injury deaths represent these social and economic factors.
Pitt County ranked 8th for clinical care, as compared to ranking 10th in 2017. The Clinical Care ranking is measured by the number of uninsured individuals; the number of healthcare providers including primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers; preventable hospital stay; diabetes monitoring; and mammography screening.
Quality of Life in Pitt County showed very little change, ranking 76th in 2017 and 77th in 2018. Individuals, who are in poor or fair health, who experience a certain number of poor physical and mental health days as well as low weight births, all comprise the Quality of Life ranking.
The rankings also measure physical environment. Pitt County’s physical environment including air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems and commute time to work, moved from the 88th to the 60th rank in 2018.
Pitt County uses all of these rankings to establish benchmarks to improve the health of the community. In 2015, the Pitt County Health Department partnered with Vidant Medical Center and East Carolina University to complete a Community Health Needs Assessment which identified key areas of health concern. Tobacco prevention and control, sexually transmitted diseases, and maternal and infant health were identified by the Pitt County Board of Health as health priorities for public health. Physical activity and nutrition, chronic disease prevention and access to care were selected by Pitt Partners for Health and the Vidant Medical Center Board of Trustees. These groups developed action plans that are continuing to address these priority areas until a new County assessment is released in 2019.
An additional effort to improve the community’s health is currently being launched in over 30 counties in eastern NC. A Regional Community Health Needs Assessment will be conducted through the leadership of the Office of Health Access in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. This Eastern Region Community Health Needs Assessment process will provide resources that will make it easier for hospitals and county health departments to work collaboratively to implement interventions that will positively impact the population’s health.
For more information about the 2018 County Health Rankings nationwide, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org,