The Ashe Health Alliance presented its annual “State of Health” report to the Ashe County Board of Commissioners on Monday, revealing where the county should focus its efforts to improve the population’s health.
“We have a lot of things happening,” said Jennifer Greene, chair of Ashe Health Alliance. “We want to keep you informed about what we are doing in the county.”
Ashe Health Alliance’s purpose is to develop a coordinated system of care to ensure that all individuals can easily access needed resources to promote health and well-being.
According to Greene, the leading concerns in Ashe County are obesity, access and affordability of healthcare services, and mental health / suicide prevention.
These health concerns play major factors in the leading causes of death in Ashe County, which are:
1. Heart disease
3. Chronic lower respiratory disease
Greene also thought it would be enlightening to reveal that suicide has become the ninth leading cause of death in Ashe County.
In order to fight these key health concerns, Greene said AHA has set four goals to be met over the next year.
They include the following:
• By June 30, 2014, five percent of the uninsured adult population in the Appalachian district will be linked to, or receive, direct primary healthcare services to improve individual and population health outcomes.
• By June 30, 2014, decrease the number of adults who are overweight or obese by two percent.
• By June 30, 2014, reduce the suicide rate (per 100,000 population) from 25.6 to 20.
• By June 30, 2014, reduce the number of high school aged youth who report they have seriously considered suicide from 16.8 percent to 10 percent.
In order to meet these goals, AHA will collaborate with several other county entities to take action locally. To increase access and affordability of healthcare in the area, AHA is partnering with Healthnet, which helps coordinate services for patients.
AHA also partners with the Mental Health Roundtable, which is currently crafting a local public service announcement focused on reducing the stigma associated with mental healthcare. The roundtable is also working on an educational wellness brochure, and is involved in the 2013 Rural Health Strategies for Ashe County Medical Providers.
AHA also collaborates with Ashe Suicide /Depression Awareness Prevention (ASAP) to find ways to raise suicide awareness.
Ashe County isn’t the only area that struggles with potentially preventable conditions; the United States as a whole also struggles.
The three main health risk factors in the United States include tobacco use, poor diet and lack of physical activity. These factors contribute to the four major chronic diseases: heart disease, type two diabetes, lung disease and many cancers. These diseases are responsible for more than 50 percent of deaths in the world.
Seventy-five percent of every dollar spent on health care in the United States is for treatment of patients with one or more chronic conditions.
It’s even higher in public programs, where 99 percent of every dollar spent in Medicare and 83 percent of every dollar spent in Medicaid 2 is for treatment of patients with those four conditions.