BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Volusia County has taken a step back when it comes to health.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin recently released its 2017 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps tool health study.
The rankings look at the community factors that affect the health of the county’s residents.
Volusia ranks No. 42 out of 67 counties in Florida when it comes to overall health, which was a decrease from 40 a year ago.
“This is just a way for us to be able to measure ourselves and to be able to compare ourselves to other places around the country. Sometimes your ranking goes down if other places improve their ranking,” explained Dr. Thomas Bryant III, director of Informatics and Assessment at Halifax Health.
Looking at counties nearby, Flagler had an overall ranking of 14 while Orange County ranked 16. Brevard was at 25 and Seminole was No. 4.
Other metro area rankings included Duval (55), Miami-Dade (23), Hillsborough (29), Pinellas (29) and Broward (19).
The health rankings report did show that Volusia County improved from 2016 in several categories, including health behaviors, clinical care, economic and social factors and physical environment.
On the other hand, the county declined in health outcomes such as length of life and quality of life.
“Once again this gives people an indication where we stand compared to other counties as well as to where we were last year,’’ Bryant stated.
The study also states that cancer remains the No. 1 cause of death in Volusia County. The county’s death rate remains significantly higher than those of the state and nation.
On June 7, the Volusia County Department of Health will host Prevent Cancer: The HPV whet
Epidemic Conference in Daytona Beach. Medical professionals will discuss the human papilloma virus (HPV), current vaccines and preventing cancer.
“We are pleased with the strong gains seen in four areas,” said Patricia Boswell, administrator for the Department of Health in Volusia County. “We’re disappointed but not surprised at the challenges we face particularly in the quality of life category.’’
She added, Volusia County’s 2017-2019 Community Health Improvement Plan and DOH-Volusia Strategic Plan identified access to health care, having healthy babies, improving youth and adult mental health and decreasing chronic disease as priorities.”
According to the foundation study, Volusia County showed improvement in the following areas:
•Sexually transmitted diseases were 50 percent lower that the state rate and showed a decrease of 7 percent
•Low birth rates were 11 percent lower than the state rate
•Violent crimes were 14.8 percent lower than the state rate and had dropped 13.8 percent
•Severe housing problems in the county were 13.6 percent lower than the state rate
•Adult smoking rates declined 15.8 percent
•Adult obesity rates dropped 7.1 percent
•Fewer teen moms gave birth in 2017 – a decline of 8.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the county rate was lower than the state rate when it came to areas such as mental health days, physical activity, access to exercise, primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers.
“We always have trouble with mental health providers, mental health counselors. For every provider, we have 180 people. We don’t want that to increase; we want to decrease,” noted Bryant.
Bryant addressed the need for more medical professionals such as doctors and dentists.
“It also says that we need more dental and mental health care,” he said about the report. “People also need to be more aware of their health status, the community and their health providers.
Providers need to be aware of what is going on in the community and what the community needs.”
Blacks and health
Monica Adolphe, a young Black Zumba instructor, holds classes at several locations in Daytona Beach, including Bethune-Cookman University and the Midtown Educational & Cultural Center,
She sees the health situation in the Black community on a daily basis.
“People in Midtown and some other areas in our community aren’t as active as they could be.
Many complain about the price of working out and eating healthy. Many are motivated right after New Year’s but they stop by June. They are done by summer.”
Adolphe is also aware of the challenges the Black community face when it comes to health.
“We suffer so much in our community and one of the reasons is because our unhealthy food is cheap. We have access to so much unhealthy food. If we don’t have someone to educate us about healthy food, how would we know? They won’t know. We don’t have enough nutrition teachers, workout teachers, trainers and so on. There are also people who just don’t want to learn,” she remarked.
Still, Adolphe sees reasons to be excited when it comes to the Black community taking care of their health.
“I do have some dedicated people in my classes who come year around. Many of them have been coming to my class for years. There are others who make sure they work out or do something physical daily whether it’s Zumba, walking, running or going to the gym.”
Adolphe added, “You don’t have to do Zumba but stay focused on your health and do something.”
Factors that the health department use to contribute to these rankings can be found at FLHealthcharts.com while the full study itself can be found at countyhealthrankings.org.
For more information on Monica Adolphe’s Zumba classes, call 386-451-9908 or email 1Elegantfitness@gmail.com.