Caroline County lacks doctors and dentists, study shows

Caroline County ranks 56 out of 133 Virginia localities in health outcomes, researchers have found.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released their fifth annual “County Health Rankings” report last week.

According to countyhealthrankings.org, rankings are compiled within each state to raise awareness of factors that influence health. Most data comes from public sources.

One of the most striking findings about Caroline is its ratio of population to primary care physicians, which is 5,735 to 1 in Caroline, compared to  1,345 to 1 in the state. In addition, Caroline’s ratio of population to dentists is 5,897 to 1, compared to 1,703 to 1 statewide.

In the local region, Caroline’s rank of 56 is considerably higher than Fredericksburg City’s 102 and Essex County’s 86, but lower than King William County’s 47, Spotsylvania County’s 35, King George County’s 32, Hanover County’s 13, and Stafford County’s 11.

In terms of health factors, Caroline ranked 67. Fredericksburg ranked 85, Essex 75, King William 36, King George 30, Spotsylvania 24, and Stafford 15, and Hanover 7 out of 133.

The report includes specifics statistics for Caroline County:

Of the county’s adult population, 21 percent reports smoking at least 100 cigarettes and are currently smoking. The statewide percentage is 18.

Obesity is present in 30 percent of adults here, which is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. This is just above the statewide percentage of 28.

The food environmental index, which looks at factors that contribute to a healthy food environment, is 8.7 in Caroline, whereas the statewide index is 8.5 and the Virginia range is 4.0 to 10.0.

Physical inactivity is at 25 percent among adults aged 20 and over in the county. This is close to the state average of 23 percent.

Thirty-three percent of the local population has adequate access to locations for physical activity, the report found, compared to 78 percent statewide.

The rate of excessive drinking is slightly lower in Caroline compared to the state, with 13 percent found to binge or drink heavily here and 16 percent statewide.

The proportion of driving deaths with alcohol involvement is 38 percent in Caroline and 35 percent overall in Virginia. The Chlamydia rate per 100,000 in population is 415 in Caroline and 449 statewide. Most people who have chlamydia don’t know it since this sexually transmitted disease often has no symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States. Sexually active females 25 years old and younger need testing every year. Although it is easy to cure, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant if left untreated.

The teen birth rate per 1,000 females ages 15-19 is 45 in Caroline and 31 statewide.

Sixteen percent of the under-65 population is without health insurance here, compared to 14 percent statewide.

Janel Donohue, Rappahannock United Way President, said in a written statement, “While some of this data gives us cause for concern, we plan to put it to good use as a messaging tool to mobilize our community into action.

“There are some areas we know we have to make improvements in, but there are also areas of success. Rappahannock United Way is proud to partner and invest in many life-changing programs in the Greater Fredericksburg community which are already working hard to improve lives and make our community a better place to live for everyone.”

“The County Health Rankings show us how health is influenced by our everyday surroundings—where we live, learn, work, and play,” said Bridget Catlin, PhD, MHSA, director of the County Health Rankings. “The County Health Rankings often provide the spark for businesses, community planners, policy-makers, public health, parents, and others to work together for better health.”

Loudon County ranked as the healthiest Virginia locality, and Petersburg City ranked as the least healthy in the “County Health Rankings” study.

Posted on Monday, March 31, 2014 at 8:49 pm