Just as most of us in the office are getting over our spring colds, stomach bugs, etc., some unsettling news has come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It turns out St. Lawrence County is one of the least healthy in the state. In fact, it’s ranked 57th out of 62 New York counties, and as county Public Health Director Dr. Susan Hathaway told Your News Now today, that’s “not a distinction we want to have.”
You can check out the specifics of RWJF’s findings in the link above (and if you’re into this stuff, they’re fascinating!), but what it basically comes down to, YNN reports, is that St. Lawrence County adults use a lot of tobacco, and have both higher rates of obesity and lower rates of physical activity than most of New York’s other counties. It’s also one of the state’s counties with highest unemployment and poverty rates — these often correlate closely with tobacco use, obesity and a lack of physical activity. Dr. Hathaway also indicates in the article that access to health care is a problem (the ratio of primary care doctors to patients is 1897:1; that’s compared with a state average of 1222:1.) She says a lack of jobs in the area for the spouses of health care providers makes it harder to attract new providers to the area.
On the upside, St. Lawrence County did do somewhat better in the clean air and water rankings, where it’s at about the fiftieth percentile.
FYI, most other northern New York counties did somewhat better in the rankings: Warren County ranked 12th; Essex, 16th; Lewis, 17th; Clinton, 26th; Jefferson, 30th; Franklin, 36th; and Herkimer, 39th.
Hamilton County, on the other hand, did slightly worse, ranking 58th. The county did rank 17th in health behaviors (that’s as opposed to 59th in St. Lawrence County), although it has an extremely high rate of “premature death.” As you may recall from our recent reporting, new census numbers also show Hamilton County’s population has dropped to below 4,800 people, 25 percent of whom are over 65. So that may have something to do with those health numbers.
We’ll have more on these numbers in the days to come. In the meantime, try to stay healthy?