Annual Update of Indicators of Healthy Communities Reveals Changes in Air Quality, Water Quality and STD Rates

May 24, 2012

The annual update of Indicators of Healthy Communities, which covers more than 40 indicators capturing aspects of health and wellness in the 15-county Tristate area, reveals three key areas with significant change:
• An improvement in water quality in the Tri-state. There were only five water quality violations in the 22-county region, which is much less than in previous years.
• A decrease in air quality in the Tri-state. The number of days when air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups increased in a number of counties in the region, the worst being in Hamilton and Butler Counties.
• Although syphilis rates decreased in Hamilton County, rates for some STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea) continued to climb, with Cincinnati having some of the highest rates of STDs in the United States.
Summaries do not provide a complete picture, though, since counties within the region may vary widely in these and other measures. For this reason, the data are provided by county whenever possible.
Indicators of Healthy Communities, first issued in 1997, is compiled by the Health Collaborative, Xavier University and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
The report serves as a snapshot in time of health indicators in the 15 counties in Greater Cincinnati, drawn from multiple sources and provides one convenient place for organizations and individuals to gather local and regional health information.
The indicators data is centralized on-line at www.xavier.edu/community-health/index.cfm and is quickly becoming a resource for the Tri-state. In the past year, the site has been visited 14,000 times.
“This year's report is important in helping us focus on the ongoing public health problems in our community. We need to understand that the focus has to be on all members of the community as we cannot ignore diseases simply because they are uncomfortable to talk about. The rates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases are worse again this year, and they need immediate attention from community leaders,” says Edmond Hooker, MD, DrPH, associate professor of health services administration at Xavier University. Dr. Hooker coordinated development of the report with the assistance of four Xavier graduate students.
According to Greg Ebel, executive director of the Collaborative, “There’s a saying that you can’t improve what you don’t measure and the Healthy Indicators report is an important reference for where our successes as a community have come and where our continued efforts need to be focused. We are grateful to Dr. Hooker and his students for compiling this comprehensive snapshot of community health.”
“The Community Indicators Report is critical to informing and furthering United Way's efforts to ensure people live healthy, independent lives. It helps us better understand what it will take to move the needle on many of the interconnected issues facing our community,” says Robert C. Reifsnyder, president and CEO, United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
Sources of data for the report include the Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey (GCCHSS), the U.S. Census Bureau, municipal, county, state and federal government sources, and many others.
The report is divided into nine general areas: a demographic overview of Greater Cincinnati; environmental factors influencing health; maternal, child and infant health; health behaviors; behavioral and mental health; infectious disease; health service utilization; mortality; and injury death. The data are put into context by comparing them to state and national numbers where available, and to Healthy People 2020, a set of 10-year goals for improving the health of all Americans. In the full report, a narrative written by an area health expert accompanies each indicator to help the reader interpret the data.
About the organizations that partnered for this report
Xavier University is a private university located in Cincinnati, Ohio, providing a liberal arts education in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition. Founded in 1831, the university is the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks it No. 4 among master’s-level universities in the Midwest, and The Princeton Review names it as one of the “Best 376 Colleges in America.” More information is available at www.xavier.edu.
The Health Collaborative is dedicated to bringing people together to effectively address health care issues in Greater Cincinnati. The Health Collaborative assembles diverse community stakeholders, from health systems and insurers to businesses and community members, with the goal of generating measurable, sustainable health improvement. Key initiatives include Cincinnati Aligning Forces for Quality, a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that focuses on lifting the quality and equality of care in our region; YourHealthMatters, a consumer focused public reporting website (www.YourHealthMatters.org); Cincinnati MD Resource Center, a program to recruit and retain an adequate physician supply for the region; and Advanced Care Planning, an emerging initiative to address end-of-life care. The work of the Collaborative has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information, visit www.the-collaborative.org.
United Way of Greater Cincinnati advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Its focus is on Education, Income and Health – the building blocks for a good quality of life. United Way recruits individuals and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. United Way recently convened numerous community and agency partners to develop a set of Bold Goals in Education, Income and Health for the region. The six Bold Goals are a community-based approach to realizing our vision for a stronger community with a high quality of life. United Way of Greater Cincinnati is also committed to providing accurate and timely information essential to helping our community develop solutions to critical health and human services problems. For more information, visit www.uwgc.org.