The Jackson County Department of Public Health recently completed the 2014 State of the County Health Report (SOTCH). The SOTCH report is an interim update to the Community Health Assessment (CHA) and is completed each year the CHA is not done. The last CHA was completed in 2011 and the next one will be done in 2015.
From the information presented in the 2011 Community Health Assessment, the assessment team and Healthy Carolinians of Jackson County selected the following health priorities: increase healthy eating (fruit and vegetable consumption), increase physical activity among adults (with a subcomponent of fall prevention with the senior population), and decrease substance abuse in adolescents (with a new focus on prescription drug abuse prevention). Action Teams of the Healthy Carolinians of Jackson County Partnership are currently working on each of these priority areas through their community action plans.
The SOTCH report compares the most recent health trends of Jackson County to Western North Carolina and North Carolina as a whole. Jackson County’s top three leading causes of death—cancer, diseases of the heart, and chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD)—are identical to the top three leading causes of death in North Carolina.
Interestingly, other recent trend data shows that the unintentional injury mortality rate (excluding motor vehicles) in Jackson County increased by 23.2% from the 2002-2006 to the 2008-2012 aggregate period. Further alcohol-related traffic accidents in Jackson County increased by 5.6% from 2011 to 2012. More crashes are alcohol-related in Jackson County than in Western North Carolina or North Carolina as a whole.
On a more positive note, Jackson County diabetes mortality rate is lower than both Western North Carolina’s and North Carolina’s as a whole. Jackson County saw an 8.2% decrease in diabetes mortality from the 2007-2011 aggregate period. Another health highlight is that Jackson County’s heart disease mortality rate decreased by 7.2% from the 2007-2011 to the 2008-2012 aggregate period. Males in Jackson County have had a higher heart disease mortality rate than females for the past decade.
Interviews with key leaders and health stakeholders indicated the following new or emerging issues affecting Jackson County’s health status: access to facilities and programs where youth can be physically active, lack of connection to locally grown foods, overweight children, cost of healthy food, violence, heroin use and the increased risk of Hepatitis and HIV from needle use, and alcohol-related traffic accidents. It is important to keep an eye on each of these issues as programs and projects are being planned in the community.
The full 2014 State of the County Health report can be viewed on the health department’s webpage http://health.jacksonnc.org, under the “Community Health Data” section. For any additional information please call Melissa McKnight at 587-8288. Hard copies are also available at the Health Department upon request.