ALBANY — County Executive Dan McCoy announced Wednesday, March 16 that while a County Health Rankings report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute has shown that Albany County is improving public health and life expectancy for county residents, it revealed a discrepancy between factors that influence health and the actual health of county residents.
Counties are ranked in two categories: health outcomes—how healthy we are; and health factors—indicators that influence health. Respectively, Albany County ranked 35th and 9th. This would seem to indicate that, while Albany County has much of what it takes to stay healthy, residents and officials may not be utilizing those resources to the most effective ends.
Albany ranked 9th of 62 counties when it comes to factors that influence health, measured across four categories: health behaviors (tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol and drug use, sexual activity); clinical care (access, quality); social and economic factors (education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety); and the physical environment (air and water quality, housing and transit). By category, Albany County ranked 12th in health behaviors, 6th in clinical care, 8th in social and economic factors and 16th in physical environment.
In outcomes however, which is based on longevity and quality of life (measured by the number of adults reporting fair or poor health, averages of the number of adults reporting physically or mentally unhealthy days in a 30-day period, and the average of infants born with low birth weights), Albany County only ranks 35th out of the 62 counties, meaning that residents are less healthy than more than half of New York state.
“The rankings show that we are making progress but still have work to do,” said McCoy. “Of concern are public health issues such as low birth weights for babies, adult obesity and related illnesses and sexually transmitted infections.” Other areas in which Albany County ranked lower are excessive drinking by county residents and access to healthy food choices.
“We will use this report to build on our successes and mobilize community partners to take action to improve overall health in Albany County,” said Albany County Department of Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen.
According to the office of the County Executive, Albany County Department of Health’s Maternal and Infant Community Health Collaborative is working to bridge the gap for high-risk infants, children and low-income pregnant women needing prenatal care, nutritional counseling and access to insurance. The department is also utilizing Public Health Action grant funding to prevent and control obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke in the county.