The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

March 23, 2013

Report: Cambria health lagging

JOHNSTOWN — Cambria County remained one of the least healthy in Pennsylvania and Somerset County slipped down into the middle of the pack on the new County Health Rankings report.

Philadelphia is the least healthy county and neighboring Chester the healthiest in the state.

The report released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute evaluated Pennsylvania’s 67 counties on more than two dozen factors the researchers believe influence a person’s health. They include individual healthy behavior markers such as obesity and smoking, as well as social and economic factors like education, violent crime, health care access, family support, education and unemployment.

Cambria moved up one spot to 62 after being 63rd last year. Cambria was 64th in both 2010 and 2011, the first two years of the rankings.

Somerset slipped from 22nd place last year to 35th this year. Bedford and Indiana also lost positions, while Blair inched up from 58th to 56th on this  year’s report.

Cambria County scored low in morbidity and mortality, ranked 56th for premature death numbers and 63rd in areas that include low birth weight and self-reported feelings of poor health.

Higher-than-average rates of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and excessive drinking contributed to a ranking of 62 for Cambria in the health behaviors category. A high number of fast-food restaurants and limited access to healthy foods and recreation facilities pushed the county to No. 61 on the physical environment category.

Cambria did better in the clinical care area, coming in at 35 out of 67. The study compared rates of uninsured residents, the number of primary care doctors and dentists, preventable hospital days and the number of preventive screenings.

Many of the negative factors are shared with other urban and distressed areas, said Dr. James Marks of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“It turns out that social and economic factors are the most powerful (health) predictors,” Marks said. “We can’t treat our way out of our high health care costs. ... Where and how people live, learn, work and play greatly affects their health.”

Union, Centre, Cumberland and Snyder counties in central Pennsylvania round out the top five healthiest. The report ranks the five unhealthiest counties as Philadelphia, Fayette, Greene, Sullivan and Forest, which fare worse than state averages in child poverty, single-parent households, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

Cambria’s results mirror the Community Needs Assessment completed last year by United Way of the Laurel Highlands, said Dr. David Carlson, chief medical officer of the Conemaugh Health System.

Unemployment, lack of sufficient medical and mental health coverage, substance abuse and disengaged parents were cited in the United Way assessment as common factors leading to the collapse of family support systems in this region.

“I think they both hit it,” Carlson said. “We struggle with our youth. Most of our newborn population comes from mothers who are in poverty. That creates a cycle.”

Poverty leads to a lack of opportunities, both socially and economically, he continued.

Among seniors, educational barriers and lack of family support make it hard for many to understand the options available, he said.

As a health system, Conemaugh is working to focus on wellness, Carlson said, adding that changes coming through health reform must make prevention more profitable than simply treating conditions.

But the economy must support the changes, he added.

“The real elixir here is jobs,” Carlson said.

The top 20 healthiest counties overall are Chester, Union, Centre, Cumberland, Snyder, Montgomery, Juniata, Lancaster, Bucks, Butler, Pike, Adams, Lebanon, Franklin, Tioga, Lycoming, Berks, Lehigh, York and Clinton.  

The bottom 20 counties are Philadelphia, Fayette, Greene, Sullivan, Forest, Cambria, Elk, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Blair, Potter, Wyoming, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Mercer, Perry, Erie and McKean.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • foust_25 Teen shot in Oakhurst

    A 16-year-old New Jersey boy was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Thursday after being shot three times in the Oakhurst section of Johnstown.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Audit: City overspent by $700G in 2013

    Legacy costs contributed significantly to the city of Johnstown coming up $689,000 short in its core services funding during 2013.

    July 24, 2014

  • Kuzma, jonathan Guilty plea in hammer death

    The Johnstown man who authorities said killed his father with a hammer last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal homicide, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • quecreek rescue Events to mark anniversary of Quecreek rescue

    When word spread that nine Quecreek miners were trapped underground in July 2002, Bill Arnold’s dairy farm quickly became the rescue effort’s ground zero.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Huger, Stephen Accused Hornerstown shooter will stand trial

    A Johnstown man will stand trial in connection with a July 12 shooting in the Hornerstown section of the city.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Board names Zahorchak’s successor

    The Greater Johnstown school board at a special meeting Thursday named a superintendent to replace the retiring superintendent, rehired its last business manager and approved other administrative appointments.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pasquerilla, Mark Pasquerilla recognized as arts patron

    First lady Susan Corbett announced Thursday from the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa., that Mark Pasquerilla of Johnstown has earned the Patron Award from the 2014 Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebensburg gets ready to party

    Party down with a shutdown.
    Downtown Shutdown, a street party featuring music and food, will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday in downtown Ebensburg.

    July 24, 2014

  • ROTARY Local Rotary Club earns recognition

    The Rotary Club of Johnstown was named Outstanding Large Club of the Year in District 7330, which serves 42 Rotary Clubs in seven counties in southwest Pennsylvania, at the Rotary District 7330 and District 7300 Joint Conference that was held June 26 through 29 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kara Baumgardner ‘I’m helping other people’: Forest Hills freshman donates regularly to Locks of Love

    Summerhill resident Kara Baumgardner has cut her hair a total of four times in the past five years.
    Each time, she has chopped off 10 to 12 inches for donation to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that makes wigs for those 21 and younger who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads