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New Rankings: Where the Healthiest Rhode Island Residents Live

Monday, September 30, 2013

 

Where do Rhode Island's healthiest residents live -- and who has the greatest access to care?

Where do the healthiest residents in Rhode Island live? According to 2013 rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a national foundation focused on improving public health, Bristol County took top honors -- while Providence County was the bottom of the list of the five counties in the state.

See Rhode Island Rankings BELOW

Several factors were included in the overall 2013 County Health Rankings, from rates of obesity, smoking, and low activity levels, to the number of premature deaths and babies born at low birth weight. Additional factors included access to healthy foods and recreational facilities, and well as health insurance.

According to the Foundation, whose mission is to improve the health and health care of all Americans, the data points are key factors that help to make communities healthier places to live and work, when improved.

Joseph Wendelken with the the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) said that all Rhode Islanders -- regardless of location -- could access health assistance at the local level.

"HEALTH has something called a Community Health Network. This is a large network of programs that give people the skills they need to address a range of health issues (e.g., asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, chronic pain)," said Wendelken.  "They are also intended to help people stay active, eat well, solve everyday problems, deal with stress, and talk more easily with their family and healthcare providers about their health issues."

More information about these programs can be found here.  

Rhode Island health data was broken down by the county level in the recent study.

Providence County Below National Benchmarks for Health

Providence had adult smoking (18%), adult obesity (27%), and physical inactivity levels (28%) all higher than the national benchmarks for each category, at 13%, 25%, and 21%, respectively.

Other categories examined ranged from poor physical health days and poor mental health days, to numbers of physicians and screenings, to children in poverty and violent crime rate.  The Foundation looked at all five counties in the state, and ranked each on its degree of health, including morbidity and mortality factors, clinical care, social and economic factors, among others.     

Wendelken touched upon initiatives HEALTH was working on to address public health

"HEALTH is currently working with RIDE to plan how we can better help schools comply with nutrition and physical activity standards," he said. "Other initiatives are related to the Centers for Health Equity and Wellness grants that HEALTH has awarded to eight community-based organizations. For example, the Olneyville Housing Corp. (a grantee) has put in place the Healthier Olneyville Initiative. This is to (1) transform land and property to affordable, quality housing, (2) construct and/or maintain parks and other open spaces for recreation, and (3) encourage walking, biking, and use of RIPTA. The city of Providence, another grantee, had put in place the Lots of Hope program to turn unused city property into urban farms."

Smoking -- and smoke-free housing -- is also being addressed by HEALTH.  "Our smoke-free housing program has provided technical assistance to many of the public housing authorities who have adopted smoke-free policies in some or all of their buildings. To date 21 out of 25 PHA's have gone smoke free. We are now also focusing on providing similar assistance for privately-owned housing. Resources are available for tenants, property managers, and landlords at http://www.livesmokefree.ri.gov,"; said Wendelken.  

See Rhode Island County Health Rankings Below

 

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