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East TN counties score low in state health report

6:56 PM, Mar 20, 2013   |    comments
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A report ranking counties on health factors and outcomes showed a sharp contrast in East Tennessee, with Knox, Blount, and Loudon counties scoring well, but Campbell, Fentress, and Scott counties getting the worst ranks in the state.

The University of Wisconsin released its 2013 'County Health Rankings and Roadmaps' study, which is based on two categories, health outcomes and health factors.

Health outcomes were based 50% on mortality, or length of life, and 50% on morbidity, or quality of life.

While Blount (4), Loudon (7) , and Knox (14) ranked high in health outcomes out of 95 counties in the state, Campbell (94), Fentress (92), Claiborne (86), and Cocke (85) ranked low.

Health factors were based on behaviors like tobacco use, diet and exercise, and alcohol use, access to clinical care, social and economic factors, and access to recreational facilities and health foods, among other criteria.

Knox County ranked second best in health factors, Blount County ranked 6th, and Loudon County ranked 10th.

Much like the health outcome category, rural counties ranked lower. Scott was listed at 92 and Campbell County at 83.

Doctors said rural counties have less options, and less money.

"There is a big need and Scott County will tell you there is a need. Every time we have been to Scott County, and we've been there plenty of times, we always have a large turnout in Scott County, Oneida, area," said Ron Brewer, with Remote Area Medical Clinic, or RAM.

RAM offers free medical, dental, and vision care at clinics across the state, and even in California. Brewer said uninsured East Tennessee residents take advantage of the vision and dental care, but do not as often make use of the general medical care available at the clinics.

"They want to get rid of the aggravating tooth. They want to get glasses. And they think they're going to be left out of the general medical part," said Brewer. "Pushing the medical side of the envelope is very hard to get the patients to take."

Brewer said RAM will be offering clinics in Campbell and Scott counties in 2014, as the need continues to stay steady in East Tennessee.

The detailed report also breaks down subcategories of the health factors and health outcomes. Campbell County had the worst morbidity ranking in the state. Fentress County ranked in the top five worst for premature health.

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