Augusta once again at the bottom of health ranking

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:05 AM
Last updated 1:17 AM
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Another health ranking, another poor score for the Augusta area.

The Commonwealth Fund released its report today on communities across the country, and Augusta and the Southeast in general fared poorly. In fact, of 306 communities rated, Augusta ranked 285th in terms of healthy life measures.

The group looked at 43 measures for health referral areas – health care regions that attract patients from surrounding areas for more complicated and specialized care. Augusta did not rate in the top 10 percent on any of the measures and rated in the
bottom 10 percent on six.

In fact, in order to reach the top 1 percent in some measures, the Augusta area would need:

• 61,825 more adults covered by health insurance

• 9,594 more children under age 17 with health insurance

• 52,431 more adults with access to care when they need it

• 17,298 more adults with preventive care, such as mammograms or colon cancer screenings

• 1,908 fewer hospitalizations for Medicare patients with chronic conditions that could be managed outside a hospital, which would save $14.7 million.

It all begins with access to care, said David Radley, the lead author of the report.

“People who can access care are more likely to receive effective care when they need it,” he said. “(Com­munities) that do well on access also tend to do well on prevention and treatment.”

The areas that did poorly on those measures also had the worst outcomes in terms of healthy lives.

For instance, Augusta’s rate of preventable deaths per 100,000 was 144.6, more than double the rate of the top 10 percent performers at 71.6 and well above the national average of 91.3.

It is no coincidence that the worst performers were also areas that tended to have higher rates of poverty, said Cathy Schoen, the senior vice president for policy, research and evaluation at the Commonwealth Fund. Areas with higher poverty have other health risk factors, such as lack of access to fresh food or a grocery store, and might lack resources from the health care systems around them.

Some cities have already taken the challenge to begin looking at the broader picture, Schoen said.

“I think there can be a synergy if communities start to ask what are our pressing population health issues, where can a health system make a real difference and where is an opportunity to be in partnership with broader community health initiatives,” she said.

That was the idea behind the Greater Augusta Healthcare Network, which brought together the hospitals and health department along with a broader network of community leaders, said Dr. Lucy Marion, the dean of Georgia Health Sciences University College of Nursing, who helped get the group started by applying for an initial grant to support it.

The group is backing the use of federally qualified health centers, clinics that get extra funding to provide low-income primary care in the community.

Belle Terrace Health & Wellness Center is one that the nursing school is trying to help and the group backed the application for Christ Community Health Services, Marion said.

“We want to build the capacity and build the quality” of that care, she said.

THE COMMON-WEALTH FUND

Established in 1918, The Commonwealth Fund’s mission is to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable members.

The fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy.

Source: www.commonwealth
fund.org

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/14/12 - 08:11 am
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It's no secret that poor

It's no secret that poor areas have less health care. Duh.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 03/14/12 - 08:18 am
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This is a bogus, meaningless

This is a bogus, meaningless statement:

“People who can access care are more likely to receive effective care when they need it,” David Radley said. “(Com­munities) that do well on access also tend to do well on prevention and treatment.”

What in the world does he mean by 'access'? All one has to do is walk into the University Hospital Emergency Room with a hangnail and tell them you're too poor to pay and you've got all the access you can stand, courtesy of Richmond County taxpayers.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/14/12 - 09:23 am
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Yeah, the point is poor

Yeah, the point is poor people are worse off in about any category you want to analyze. Why would health care be any different? Richmond County and some surrounding counties are poor. Not hard to understand.

Tom Corwin
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Tom Corwin 03/14/12 - 10:11 am
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Little Lamb, Their definition

Little Lamb,

Their definition of access is care that is coordinated and accessible when needed, i.e. primary care or a medical home. Emergency Room care, while accessible, would not fall under this definition. Also, Richmond County does not subsidize indigent care at University Hospital any more. That ended about 10 years ago. Those funds now go to a program called Project Access that coordinates care for the indigent in Richmond County through volunteer physicians.

augusta817
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augusta817 03/14/12 - 11:47 am
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There is no greater

There is no greater indictment for 'ivory tower-ism' and poor community involvement on the part of Georgia Health Sciences University than this. What are they doing other than serving their own selfish, and I might add, largely tax payer funded self interests?

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