I have always loved maps, and at one time in the distant past I wanted to be a cartographer. And when I come across a map loaded with statistical information comparing one locality with another, I will spend hours in fascination. Call it crazy or obsessive, but its true. Such was the case this morning when I stumbled across comparative health data comparing county to county in the United States. I was interested in where Kootenai County stood on a number of health related categories, ranging from smoking rates to binge drinking, from children living in poverty to percentage of patients unable to afford a visit to the physician.
Although Kootenai County ranked 10th overall in relative health when compared to other counties in Idaho, there are still glaring areas where we could do better. Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease, and in our county the rate is 338 cases per 100,000 population, compared to 252 statewide. Chlamydia infection usually is asymptomatic in women, and left untreated can cause sterility. Smoking rates are 20% (compared to 17% statewide), and lack of access to healthy foods is reported by 16% of our citizens, compared to only 9% of the population in Idaho. Locally, 16 days per year are considered high air pollution days, compared to only 9 statewide. Children of single parent homes (27%) exceeds the statewide average of 23%. This often equates to a larger number of children living in poverty. Education is also a sore spot, with Idaho lagging far behind the national average. Lack of education generally is correlated with poorer health. Kootenai County’s high school graduation rate of 74% falls behind Idaho’s already low average of 81%.
Since our inception as a medical office in 2004, our major goal has been to promote healthy living to the men and women of Kootenai County. Together, we can make strides in these and other areas. For more information on the health of our county, go to www.countyhealthrankings.org and read further about where we stand…..Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA