Cenla parish health rankings 2014: Who comes out ahead? - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Cenla parish health rankings 2014: Who comes out ahead?

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CENLA AREA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - News Channel 5 received the following article from Dr. David Holcombe regarding Cenla parishes overall health ratings for 2014:

"Every spring. the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin's Population health institute, publishes the "County Health Rankings." The results provide a snapshot of health in the state and opportunity to devote time, energy, and money to areas of particular concern.

The results are divided into "Health Outcomes," based on length and quality of life, and "Health Factors," (or health determinants), based on a complex group of measures of health behaviors, clinical care indicators, social and economic factors and environmental factors. For the specific measures and how they are weighted, consult the www.countyhealthrankings.org web site.

So how does CENLA do when our eight parishes are compared to each other and to all of the 64 parishes of Louisiana? As in the past years, the picture is mixed. As far as health outcomes are concerned, LaSalle (10/64) and Vernon (14/64) fall in the top third of Louisiana parishes. Winn (22/64), Rapides (32/64), and Grant (33/64) land in the middle third. Avoyelles (45/64), Concordia (55/64), and Catahoula (61/64) lie in the bottom third. 

Since "Health Factors" (or determinants) result in "Health Outcomes," there is always a more or less direct correlation between the two. Once again, our CENLA parishes group themselves in three groups. Rapides (18-64), LaSalle (19-64), and Vernon (21/64) fall in the top third of Louisiana parishes. Grant (34/64) and Winn (40/64) are in the middle third, and Avoyelles (52/64), Concordia (53/64), and Catahoula (57/64) appear in the bottom third. 

Compared to other regions, CENLA has the same lack of homogeneity as others. There are healthier parishes and less healthy parishes. Statewide, St. Tammany Parish came in 1/64 for both outcomes and factors. Without taking anything away from their accomplishments, it should be remembered that, as a state, Louisiana ranked 48/50 states in its overall rank in America's Health Ranking 2013 (www.americashealthranking.org). In that national ranking, we are 44/50 for outcomes and 49/50 for "determinants" (factors). Although the two ranking systems do not use identical measures, 16 are the same. 

Tackling health proves to be a daunting task, and Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals has a host of programs to help improve our national ranking (and target areas of specific need within the state). The depth and complexity of the issues, often compounded by serious racial disparities, requires a concerted effort by individuals and government.

It has been repeatedly shown that health can be a byproduct of three measures: income, educational level, and social status. When any of these variables increase, health outcomes do as well. Poverty, low educational levels, and low social status remain the enemies to health, not just in CENLA, but everywhere in Louisiana and the United States. Working together as individuals and organizations, we can not only improve our rankings within the state, but relative to other states and countries. 

Dr. David Holcombe, M.D., M.S.A."
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