Heart disease, drug abuse highlight health survey

By Amanda Moss

January 6, 2014

Amanda Moss

Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM —It was a case of good news bad news in the latest Richmond County health assessment.

While teen pregnancy numbers have dropped for the county, a continuing problem for the county continues to be heart disease said Tommy Jarrell, Richmond County health director, who presented the study’s findings to the county commissioners Monday during a public meeting in downtown Rockingham.

There were multiple areas of concern in the 2013 Community Health Assessment, Jarrell said.

“It is a significant problem in Richmond County,” Jarrell said of heart disease.

The numbers have decreased in patients that have been discharged with heart disease over the years, Jarrell said, but the average for the county is still significantly higher than the state average.

“We’re pleased to see that the numbers down, but still have a lot of work to do,” Jarrell said. “It continues to be a problem along with diabetes as being a top health concern for the county.”

Another major concern was substance abuse in the county, Jarrell said — specifically, prescription drugs that are filled in Richmond County.

In 2011, a total of 124,667, or a rate of 2.67, prescription pain killers were filled in Richmond County. This is in comparison to the state rate which is 1.87.

According to the assessment, the vast majority of unintentional deaths are drug or medication related. In other words, drugs — prescribed or illegal — are being abused.

“Our numbers are not good in comparison to the state,” Jarrell said. “And the state numbers aren’t even that good.”

The numbers for health care resources in 2011 also reflect areas that Richmond County fall behind in. There are 11.6 physicians per 10,000 in the population in the county. The number of dentists is even less, falling at 2.4. Jarrell said that the county is considerably low in comparison to the state average.

Jarrell took a moment to take a look through the eyes of the residents of the county to get their opinion on the problems facing the county. A total of 210 homes were visited by volunteers to get their opinions. Homes were randomly selected throughout the county and each home had an equal chance of being selected.

“We visited $300,000 homes as well as a $5,000 (home),” Jarrell said. “We had people that spoke different languages and we had a lot of volunteers trained to help us with this.”

The numbers of the survey reflected that 71 percent of the population in Richmond County has access to the Internet. When asked whether or not the county was a good place to live, 44 percent said yes.

The top five concerns that residents stated in the survey were unemployment, high school drop out rates, poverty, homelessness and animal control.

Copies of the assessment are available online at Hard copies of the assessment are also available in the local libraries as well as at the county manager’s office on South Hancock Street in downtown Rockingham.