Crawford County was ranked No. 16 of Arkansas’ 75 counties in health factors in the recent County Rankings and Roadmaps put out by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Crawford landed in the middle of surrounding counties in the rankings, with Benton and Washington counties in the top five, Sebastian and Franklin close to Crawford, and Madison a more distant No. 39.
"We’re in pretty good standing statewide, but we want to do more to promote healthy living in Crawford County," said Michelle Hammer, administrator for the Crawford County Health Unit.
Health factors were based on categories that included health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
Those categories include factors such as teen birth rate, the ratio of physicians to clients, unemployment rates and drinking water safety.
"While we don’t exceed (negatively) the state average in a lot of areas, we still have a lot of health concerns in our community," Hammer said. "We need to continue to work on preventative health care in order to be a healthier county."
Crawford County has 86 preventable per every 1,000 hospital stays, higher than the state average of 79 and the national average of 47. The hospitalization rate is based on ambulatory-care sensitive conditions of Medicare enrollees.
Preventative methods that could be taken by residents include quitting smoking, exercising daily, screening for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and taking advantage of free flu shots, Hammer said.
Crawford actually has a comparatively high percentage in diabetic screenings - 85 percent to the state’s 83 percent - and close to the national average of 90 percent.
Adult smoking in the county is at 21 percent, adult obesity at 33 percent and physical inactivity at 30 percent.
Areas where the county did well include a high percentage of high school graduates at 88 percent and a comparatively low violent crime rate of 249 per 100,000 population compared to the state average of 508.
"We’re average but we do have improvements to make," Hammer said. "We want to keep getting healthier."
While health education is part of the programming in area schools, Hammer said she is working with the Crawford County Health Education Coalition to target health issues for all age groups in the community.
"We have a lot of resources, we just need to get the word out about what those are," Hammer said.
Hammer also noted that open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace will begin Oct. 1, and with more affordable insurance will come better access to health care.
Residents can contact the county health unit at (479) 474-6391 after Oct. 1 to get assistance signing up for health insurance, Hammer said. In-person assistants (IPAs) trained to help will be on hand, she said.
For information on healthier living habits and preventative health care, residents can contact the health unit or their private care provider, Hammer said.
A mass clinic for a free flu shot also will be provided by the health unit at the Emergency Operations Center - formerly the armory - Friday, Oct. 25. Those with medical insurance need to bring their card.