Poor Health Rating For Delaware County

Delaware County has been ranked near the bottom of Indiana's 92 counties for its overall health rating. The low ranking is due to a variety of factors including obesity, unemployment, risk-taking sex, alcohol abuse, and you guessed it—smoking.

The administrator of the Delaware County Health Department, Bob Jones explains, "When we look at what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong, the first thing we need to do is look in the mirror at our own lives. If you're a parent, you have even more responsibility." Jones cited a long list of issues that contribute to the county's low standing in overall health including the number of children living under the poverty line, teen birth rates, violent crimes, number of liquor stores per neighborhood, smog, and single-parent households.

Cheetos For Dinner

Monique Armstrong, the director of the Muncie organization known as Motivate our Minds, responsible for helping to feed underfed school kids says, "We have children who tell us they are eating Cheetos for dinner. We recognize our children are not the healthiest."

On February 17, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the nation's first county health rankings. The report is called "2010 County Health Rankings." Delaware County found itself ranked 11th from last among the counties in the state of Indiana in terms of disease and death measures. Other factors relating to the health of the residents, such as clinical care, environment, individual behavior, and socio-economic factors, placed Delaware County 71st. The highest ranking counties are those deemed healthiest.

Big Factor

"Smoking is a big factor certainly in Delaware County, and with smoking comes health problems," said health education coordinator for Ball State University, Anna Lamb. "We also have high rates of alcohol and marijuana use."

The director of TeamWORK for Quality Living (TQL), Molly Flodder concurs, "The economy has an impact on health," she explains. "Smoking and drinking are coping mechanisms for people caught in the maelstrom of events that make it difficult to get through each day."

Claire Lee, the senior administrative director for quality and safety at the Ball Memorial Hospital didn't find the low ranking a surprise, "This is not new information to us. We have high smoking populations, high obesity populations and high populations of alcohol and drinking. We recognize we are really not a healthy population in Delaware County."

Active Campaign

Ball Memorial has actively campaigned for the improvement of public health. The hospital has developed healthy baby and smoking cessation programs.