The state of Sampson County’s health is not strong, with obesity, heart disease and teen pregnancy rates exceeding the state average, but initiatives are in place with the goal of improving the health for all citizens.
The 2012 State of the County Health (SOTCH) Report was recently released, and an overview given to the Sampson County Board of Commissioners.
The Sampson County Health Department and the Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians collaborate to provide the SOTCH, a yearly review of the top health concerns determined by the 2011 Community Health Assessment and how Sampson has taken action to address them. The goal of the report is to improve the health and quality of life for Sampson residents by detailing identified problems, as well as health education programs being developed to decrease health disparities.
Kathie Johnson, Sampson County Health Department preparedness coordinator, gave an update on the key areas of concern, statistics as it relates to the state and the progress being made to improve Sampson’s numbers.
“Every four years, the Health Department is tasked with doing a report on the health of the county, the Community Health Assessment. Other years, we do a State of the County Health Report,” said Johnson. “We did a (CHA) in 2011, and the concerns that were identified by county residents included obesity, teen pregnancy, chronic disease (heart disease/stroke, and diabetes), drug and alcohol abuse and tobacco use.”
The report provides a review of major morbidity and mortality data, a discussion of progress on selected priorities, changes that impact health concerns in Sampson County, as well as “new and emerging” issues that affect the county’s health status.
“The main goal for our report is to help identify how we are doing in reducing these risk factors,” said Johnson, “so we partner with such people as United Way, Sampson Regional (Medical Center), Cooperative Extension and we all work together to help reduce the county’s health cost and health burden.”
The report highlights local numbers in key health categories, statistics that are alarming when compared to the state.
In Sampson County, 128 died from heart disease in 2009, and 151 in 2010. The heart disease mortality rate increased to 195.7 (out of 1,000 people) and exceeded the state rate of 182.6 in 2009. In 2010, the mortality rate increased to 238.1 and exceeded the state rate of 179.2.
There were 140 cancer deaths in Sampson in 2009, and the same amount the next year. The cancer mortality rates of 214 in 2009 and 220.7 in 2010 were each higher than the state rate, which hovered at 186-189.
In 2009, there were 21 deaths in Sampson due to diabetes, which increased to 27 in 2010. The diabetes mortality rate in Sampson in 2009 was higher than the state average, and just got worse the next year, at 42.6 compared to the 21.4 state average.
In 2011, heart disease and cancer accounted for nearly 300 deaths and close to half of the deaths in the county.
Also identified as a problem area, Sampson County ranks 22nd out of 100 counties in North Carolina for teen pregnancy.
“That is not something that we should be very proud of,” said Johnson. “It is something that we really, really, truly need to work toward reducing dramatically.”
From July 2011-November 2012, Sampson County Health Department’s Maternal Health clinic served 7 percent of clients ages 15-19. While the teen pregnancy rate decreased from 69.6 in 2009 to 63.2 in 2010, it was still higher than the 2010 state rate of 49.7.
Sampson County’s total number of teen repeat pregnancies was 31 percent, ranking 16 out of 100 counties. The rate of N.C. live births to mothers less than age 18 was 3.8, compared to Sampson’s rate of 5.1.
Obesity among the entire population, children and adults, has also been a prevalent issue, with many initiatives implemented locally to promote community health and begin more active
In 2009, 19.7 percent of Sampson County’s children ages 2-18 years of age were overweight compared to the state’s 16.2 percent. In 2010, 19.1 percent of Sampson children were obese compared to the state’s 18 percent, and an adult obesity percentage of 32.7 percent in Sampson exceeded the 29.5 percent in North Carolina.
In 2011 Sampson County’s adult smoking percentage of 23 percent exceeded the state percentage of 22 percent.
Efforts being made
Numerous efforts have been made to raise awareness, educate the public and bring resources to the community as it relates to heart disease and diabetes.
Heart disease presentations have been conducted and “Heart Healthy” classes held at Sampson Regional Medical Center (SRMC).
The 14th annual Breast Cancer Rally was held at County Courthouse downtown, following a “Walk for the Cure” to First Baptist Church, in which 145 people participated. Sampson County Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP), who put on the rally, distributed over 675 pink ribbons to local churches and organizations for the Pink Ribbon Campaign, and more than 15 breast and cervical cancer presentations were conducted, reaching over 215 community residents.
The Diabetes Self-Management Program at the Sampson County Health Department provided 12 diabetes education classes reaching 87 diabetics. The department also provided monthly individual Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) sessions and a diabetes educator was able to reach more than 500 people at various community health fairs.
Through its 2nd Annual Holiday Health Fair, the Health Department was able to reach more than 130 participants.
Also in 2012, SRMC initiated the Diabetes Bus Initiative that has conducted 11 classes reaching over 78 patients.
Obesity and teen pregnancy also remain very much on the community radar, along with drug abuse and alcohol and tobacco use.
Johnson said the Health Department has as its goal to reduce the teen pregnancy ranking from 22nd and repeat teen pregnancies in teens under 17. To that end, the Health Department partnered with the Academic Abundance to educate teens in Family Planning and STD presentations that reached 102 high school students during the 2011-2012 school year.
The Health Department and N.C. Cooperative Extension Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less is an ongoing program that promotes weight loss through activity. The Extension and the Sampson County Partnership for Health Carolinians (SCPHC) also purchased playground equipment though funds from the Eat Smart Move More Community Grant in May 2012.
Additionally, the Fitness Renaissance Program has played a big part in both school systems and Clinton City Schools and SCPHC hosted the “Walk to School Day” in October with close to 1,100 students participating.
The Stay on Track Program was implemented in the middle school system during the 2012-2013 school year, a push led by the Sampson County Meth Task Force. Funding is used to purchase supplies for the program to educate middle school students on the dangers of drugs and addictions.
Commissioner Jefferson Strickland noted some of the numbers in the report, which have improved, but needed work. Johnson said there are “a lot of problems” that Sampson has and solutions are being vigilantly sought.
“We hope to continue to work toward healthier outcomes for all of our citizens,” said Johnson.
“We’re a little bit better, but as you have stated, we have our work cut out for us,” said
The SOTCH report is available online at the Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians webpage, at www.scpfhc.org, or upon request at the Sampson County Health Department, which can be reached at 910-592-1131.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.