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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cuyahoga is one of the Least Healthy Counties in Ohio

Posted By on Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 11:34 AM

click to enlarge Mayor Frank Jackson and the Clinic's Dr. Toby Cosgrove at an Atlantic panel last year. - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Mayor Frank Jackson and the Clinic's Dr. Toby Cosgrove at an Atlantic panel last year.
The eighth annual report from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps paints a distressing picture of the region.

Despite the fifth-best clinical care among counties in Ohio, Cuyahoga remains one of the least healthy counties overall, ranking 75 out of 88 for Quality of Life factors, 76 out of 88 for Social and Economic Factors, and a ghastly 85 out of 88 for "Physical Environment," which measures air pollution, water quality, home quality and the percentage of people who commute to work alone.

As the Plain Dealer's Brie Zeltner reported, one of the more alarming statistics in the report is the number of people who have died prematurely. Last year, 7,800 people in the county died before the age of 75 (putting Cuyahoga 47th out of 88 counties in that department). Premature deaths are rising, and the leading cause — unexpectedly — is drug overdoses.

Scene has been reporting on the heroin epidemic — including the scourge of fentanyl — and the meteoric rise in overdose deaths statewide. As the county health report shows, the rising overdose deaths are more pronounced in rural counties, but are wreaking havoc in urban and suburban areas as well. Last year, the worst county for premature deaths was Pike, where eight family members were executed in nearby trailers in a single gruesome incident.

As is often cited when discussing Cuyahoga County's (and in particular, Cleveland's) infant mortality rate, the health stats are especially bothersome given the world-class healthcare in the region. According to the report, Cuyahoga is among the top counties in Ohio in the categories of physicians, dentists and mental health professionals per capita.

Cleveland Clinic is now ranked the No. 2 hospital in the county by U.S. News and World Report, trailing only the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. Last week, the MetroHealth System's board of trustees voted to issue $1.3 billion in revenue bonds to fund a massive campus overhaul.

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