Study Ranks El Dorado County Highly for Residents Health Status But Recommends Improvements
El Dorado County residents' health status "compares favorably" with residents in the rest of the state and neighboring counties, but improvements are recommended in access to care and other issues, according to the county's "Measuring Our Health, the Health Status of El Dorado County, 2004" report, the Sacramento Bee reports. The report, which the county Public Health Department prepared using data from 2001 -- the most recent year for which figures are available -- examined data on 47 indicators of health in eight categories: children and adolescents, chronic disease, economy, infectious disease, mothers and infants, unintentional injuries, violent and abusive behavior and other health indicators. The report found that the county had lower rates of births to women ages 15 to 19 than the state average and rates in surrounding counties, ranking seventh of 58 counties. The birth rate among adolescents in the county has decreased steadily for five years. In addition, the report found that the county has lower rates of child abuse, coronary heart and cerebrovascular disease and diabetes. The county also has a higher level of educational attainment, which "worldwide, is the number one predictor of health," according to Lois Hathaway, a health program manager.
The report also found the percentage of El Dorado residents who were uninsured or delayed care because of the cost of treatment or health insurance was higher than the state average and percentages in neighboring counties. The report found that 51.1% of emergency department visits in the county were for routine care, compared with 42.3% in Placer County, 40% in Sacramento County, 5.7% in Amador County and 34.5% statewide. The report also noted the following areas for improvement:
- Hepatitis: The county's case rate for hepatitis C has been rising during the past five years. At the same time, the hepatitis B case rate has been declining, but it remains higher than the state average and rates in surrounding counties.
- Melanoma: When adjusted for age, the county's incidence and death rates from melanoma are higher than in surrounding counties, and rates have been increasing for about 10 years.
- Suicide: The county's suicide incidence rank is 35th of 58 counties. However, the rank is an improvement from previous years, when the county ranked 54th, and its suicide rates have declined during the last eight years.
Efforts to improve access to care include the opening last year of the Community Health Center, which has provided care to more than 2,000 uninsured patients during the past year and plans for the county to work with the Healthy Communities Access Program to develop a network of private physicians who would accept some Medi-Cal beneficiaries. To obtain funding to assist people with hepatitis, volunteers are developing reliable reporting procedures and have created a support group to help people with the disease (Locke, Sacramento Bee, 7/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.