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DOH-Leon Addresses County Health Rankings

By Christopher Tittel, Public Information Officer

March 20, 2019

Tallahassee, Fla. —The Florida Department of Health in Leon County recognizes the value in measuring health outcomes and today acknowledged the 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, much of which is available from the department at www.FLHealthCHARTS.com.

“We are grateful for partners dedicated to improving the conditions in Leon County that will foster optimal health. Early childhood education, safe and affordable housing, access to healthy food and quality health care are among the priorities being addressed in the Leon County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Their steadfast commitment to health equity is inspiring,” DOH-Leon Health Officer Claudia Blackburn said.

These rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country, and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. The department works in collaboration with local governments, nonprofit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Leon County. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care.

In Leon County, the CHIP is designed to address specific opportunities for improved health that have been identified by the community. The department has partnered with many stakeholders to implement the CHIP and collaborates regularly to track progress.

According to the 2019 County Health Rankings, Leon County leads all of Florida’s 67 counties in terms of newly diagnosed cases of chlamydia. DOH-Leon remains committed to bringing down these rates, especially among young adults ages 15 to 24. The department tracks sexually transmitted infection (STI) trends within specific communities and collaborates with STI prevention partners to educate, screen and treat high-risk individuals. In addition, staff educate students on STIs and prevention measures through one-on-one interviews and classroom presentations.

The 2019 County Health Rankings also reports that Leon County ranks 6th out of Florida’s 67 counties in terms of “severe housing problems.” The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines this as housing that is severely overcrowded or cost-burdened or lacks complete kitchen or plumbing facilities.

In addition, the report ranks Leon County as 9th in terms of income inequality, which it claims is associated with increased risk of sickness and death.

DOH-Leon and its local partners have developed a CHIP that addresses, among other things, the need for affordable housing and sustainable employment.

“United Way of the Big Bend recognizes affordable housing is an ongoing issue across the state. On a local level, we are dedicated to making a positive impact in our community on this pressing issue through strategic collaborations which will serve to promote the economic stability of ALICE households,” Rebecca Weaver, Director of Impact Strategies, United Way of the Big Bend, said.

The United Way of the Big Bend’s definition of ALICE refers to the population in our communities that is Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained and Employed. The ALICE population represents those among us who are working but, due to child care costs, transportation challenges, the high cost of living and so much more, are living paycheck to paycheck. http://www.uwof.org/alice

DOH-Leon is also working with the Mental Health Council of the Big Bend to address mental health issues in the community.

According to the 2019 County Health Rankings, Leon County residents reported having experienced four “poor mental health days” within the previous month of the survey. The average of all counties combined was 3.8 days.

“The Mental Health Council of the Big Bend is continuing to work closely with the Florida Department of Health in Leon County to identify areas of need and strategize solutions,” Jay Reeve, PhD, chair of the Mental Health Council of the Big Bend and CEO of the Apalachee Center, said. “We have made some significant progress in heightening awareness of mental health issues and developing pathways to treatment, especially for individuals in the high-impact neighborhoods that have shown high levels of depression and anxiety in our research, but we still have a lot to do. There are some exciting things happening with mental health in this community, thanks to the spirit of interagency collaboration that has been fostered by the Leon County Health Department and the CHIP process.”

To explore more health indicators in your county, visit www.FLHealthCHARTS.com.

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The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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