Moffat County ranked 44th among healthiest counties in Colorado
April 1, 2011
2011 Colorado County Health Rankings (out of 57 counties):
(Category — ranking)
• Health outcomes — 44
• Mortality — 43
• Morbidity — 47
• Health factors — 45
• Health behaviors — 55
• Clinical care — 55
• Social & economical — 31
• Physical environment — 41
— Overall: 44th
• Health outcomes — 9
• Mortality — 9
• Morbidity — 4
• Health factors — 4
• Health behaviors — 5
• Clinical care — 9
• Social & economical — 4
• Physical environment — 8
— Overall: 9th
Rio Blanco County:
• Health outcomes — 33
• Mortality — 39
• Morbidity — 30
• Health factors — 22
• Health behaviors — 25
• Clinical care — 43
• Social & economical — 19
• Physical environment — 34
— Overall: 33rd
Moffat County was listed 44th out of 57 counties in Colorado in the 2011 County Health Rankings released Wednesday.
The rankings, developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, use a variety of factors including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic considerations, physical environment, mortality and morbidity.
Douglas County near Denver ranked first on the list and Huerfano County in southern Colorado came in at 57th. Seven counties were not ranked — Cheyenne, Dolores, Hinsdale, Jackson, Kiowa, Mineral and San Juan.
Moffat County's ranking was 45th last year.
The county's health factors rating dropped from 36th last year to 45th this year.
Another big drop included the clinical care factor, which fell from 46th last year to 55th this year.
According to the rankings, the percentage of uninsured adults under 65 in Moffat County is 25 percent.
Suzi Mariano, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association public information director, said the best way to interpret the stats is to compare the numbers to the state's average.
The state average for uninsured adults under 65 is 20 percent, she said.
However, Mariano said the VNA contends Moffat County's uninsured under 65 percentage is actually 33 percent rather than the 25 percent listed in the health rankings.
Through studies, the VNA hopes to keep helping community members improve their health, she said.
"When we opened the community clinic, we hoped to fill a gap for the people who usually don't go seek treatment," she said. "Hopefully next year we can use these numbers to improve on our rankings."
Jennifer Riley, The Memorial Hospital chief of organizational excellence, said the number that sticks out most to her in the rankings is the ratio of primary care providers in Moffat County.
There is only one primary care provider for every 2,764 people in Moffat County compared to the state average of 816 people for every one primary care provider.
"I think it is typical for a small, rural town because health care can be hard to get," Riley said. "We have eight physicians and two physician assistants and we try to provide enough to help the community."
Riley said TMH has numerous resources available to aid the ratio, including providing education to the community on nutrition and giving low-cost care when families can't afford a health care visit.
Cost, Riley said, is another big factor in the rankings.
The unemployment rate in Moffat County jumped from 4 percent in 2010 to 6.6 percent in 2011, according to the rankings. Single-parent households are also at 33 percent in Moffat County, 6-percent higher than the state average.
Riley said even if people have jobs, many employers are cutting costs by thinning out health care benefits.
"People are getting more limited health insurance and have to decide if a visit to a physician is really worth it," she said. "People may have something wrong in the beginning that can be easily treated, but they wait and get to a point that it causes more damage."
Jim Gregoire, manager of Trapper Fitness Center, said the economy not only affects what people can get treated for, but also what they can do to stay healthy.
Health behaviors, such as smoking, excessive drinking and adult obesity have risen slightly this year and all three are above the state average.
"It costs money to get into a gym, and while we would like to let everyone in for free, we are trying to run a successful business," Gregoire said. "When people can't afford to feed themselves and their family, they are going to cut extra things like the gym."
Karie Booth, owner and manager of Holistic Health & Fitness, said working out is only a small percentage of the health problem, with dieting being the primary concern.
Access to healthy foods like produce stands and farmers markets are up from 14 percent in 2010 to 17 percent in 2011 in Moffat County, according to the rankings.
However, the state average rose from 37 percent to 59 percent.
"It is all about what people put into their bodies," Booth said. "I think people have a lack of education when it comes to what they should eat and they don't take control of their own health."
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