Oral Health America released A State of Decay, Vol. IV earlier this month.
And while the report, which provides a state by state analysis of the oral health of older adults, revealed that half of the mainland states received a “poor” ranking, there is a glimmer of hope for states struggling with oral health outcomes.
West Virginia was one of the states that received a poor ranking, in 43rd place.
But the example of Alabama will be heartening to oral health advocates and professionals in West Virginia. A low ranking in the last analysis in 2016, when it was placed 50th, got the attention of state officials, which led to creation of a plan and commitment to goals in five key areas.
The result: in 2018 Alabama was placed 29th, a dramatic improvement and a hopefully example for other states, like West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey, that often do poorly in public health studies, that improvement is possible.
Through publication of A State of Decay and provision of guidelines for action, OHA continues to lead the way toward healthier mouths for older adults.
States, advocates, and public health coalitions that share OHA’s commitment can use these recommendations to push forward policies needed to positively impact the health and oral health of older adults.
Read and download the full report at astateofdecay.org.
Photo by Giles Turnbull/FlickrCC
Concerned that state budget cuts are hampering the ability of the medical community to respond to the pressing public health issues facing West Virginia, one community organization serving southern West Virginia has made its own move to bridge that funding shortfall.
The Logan Healthcare Foundation recently paid for up-to-date health data and training support for 10 West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources and Health Dept. employees serving Logan, Mingo, Wyoming, Boone and Lincoln counties.
This critical investment will give the 10 state employees access to West Virginia Rural Health Association’s Health Data Portal, the only online resource of its kind that tracks health statistics, workforce resources, health outcomes, services and facilities in West Virginia.
With more than 300 data sets and visualizations, the Health Data Portal is a powerful tool to help inform West Virginia Rural Health stakeholders, citizens, policy and decision-makers on where and how their health care demands are affecting the state.
This information can be used to demonstrate current health provider distribution relative to a health outcome, the economic impact of health care shortages within a community, trends in children in poverty, low birthweight babies, minority health, drug overdoses by county, resources for treatment and mental health services, and transit services to name a few.
Similar concerns from local education sector
And, with similar concerns that budget cuts in education could harm the ability of local universities to produce well-trained and well-resourced health professionals, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has funded access to the Health Data Portal for Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Shepherd University, West Liberty State College, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia State University, West Virginia University, and West Virginia University Institute of Technology.
“Recent state budget cuts and the absence of easily accessible and current data hamper the ability of the higher education system to respond.”
“Higher education can play an important role in addressing the monumental issues facing West Virginia’s population including the opioid crisis, diabetes, and access to quality health care,” said Debrin Jenkins, Executive Director of the West Virginia Rural Health Association.
“But recent state budget cuts and the absence of easily accessible and current data hamper the ability of the higher education system to respond. Extending access to the West Virginia Health Data Portal will be a new tool that higher education can utilize to make advancements in tackling these critical issues. The use of current, more easily accessible data will undoubtedly equal better health results for the populations of the state.”
The West Virginia Health Data portal is an autonomous repository for health workforce data that provides a link between policy and practice. The portal provides data and maps to inform West Virginia rural health stakeholders, citizens, policy and decision-makers where and how their health care demands are affecting the state.
Trend analysis and supply and demand data for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, social workers and specialists is available, and the data maps visually show the areas of maldistribution of the health workforce down to the zip code level.
The portal is updated annually and describes health care shortages in rural areas.
For more information about the West Virginia Health Data Portal, visit wvrha.org/west-virginia-health-data-portal/
Photo by Thomas Hawk/FlickrCC
A study released by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in August found that people in Appalachia are dying for “diseases of despair” – such as prescription drug and illegal drug overdose, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease – at higher rates than the rest of America.
In 2015, the 15 to 64 year old population in the Appalachian Region represented 7.8 percent of the total population in the United States for this age group, yet contributed to 10.3 percent of the total deaths from diseases of despair.
The goal of this study was to analyze the impact of the diseases of despair on mortality within the Appalachian Region. Specifically, researchers investigated whether disparities related to diseases of despair are greater within the Appalachian Region than the non-Appalachian United States, and whether Appalachian disparities were driving national trends showing rising mortality from diseases of despair.
Read the full report at www.arc.gov