Hudson Valley County ‘Encouraged’ by Being 3rd Unhealthiest in NY
While it's not something to celebrate, officials say they're "encouraged" by being ranked 60 out of 63 on a list of the healthiest counties in New York.
Results of the latest Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings and Roadmap report were just made public and there are some wild disparities between the counties in our region. The report aims to promote health equality and identify communities whose residents don't have an opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
The report shows that much of the Hudson Valley seems to be pretty healthy, except for one county that is at the bottom of the list. Out of the 62 counties in New York, one local county is ranked 60. However, county officials say that the grade is actually encouraging considering that they were ranked 61 last year.
Lowest numbers in the Hudson Valley and State
County Health & Human Services Commissioner John Liddle announced that Sullivan County continues to be one of the unhealthiest counties in all of New York.
Liddle says he's not boasting about the poor ranking, but framed it as good news.
While 60th is not something to celebrate, I was very encouraged to see that we improved our results or stayed steady on 25 different metrics.
The commissioner went on to explain that he's optimistic despite the many health challenges that Sullivan County appears to be facing. One of the reasons for his optimism is some "modest improvements" seen in healthier behaviors among residents and improvements in air quality and access to exercise.
Data, however, still shows some major challenges that Sullivan County is currently facing. To put the numbers in perspective, Dutchess County ranked 17th healthiest while neighboring Orange and Ulster counties ranked 20th and 24th respectively.
Health Challenges Still Prevelant
Sullivan County's acting Public Health Director Karen Holden cited several issues in the report that continue to hurt the area's health community. Among the most challenging is the premature death of young adults, especially due to drug overdose. Holden blamed many of these deaths on the easy access to fentanyl, whether it's used on its own or unknowingly mixed in with other drugs.
Another issue is a 7% increase in child poverty versus last year. Because the numbers are based on data from 2021, officials say that the pandemic's impact on tourism and parents being forced out of work were major factors.
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