Considering Lake County's main health issues

Published on
April 15, 2011

Lake County News proposes to craft a five-part series on the county's main health concerns, based on a variety of information sources.

Those sources include the 2010 Lake County Health Needs Assessment, 2010 Census information, the newly released County Health Rankings Report conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a state assessment of counties' health factors that's expected to be released by May, research by groups including the American Lung Association and the Lake Family Resource Center, local hospitals, the county public health office, the California Department of Public Health's EpiCenter (California Injury Data Online), and local and state law enforcement agencies with pertinent statistics.

Based on our research and discussions with our county's top public health official, Dr. Karen Tait, the main concerns we plan to address are the high rates of accidental death, underage drinking and the high rates of smoking.

Those three risk factors emerged in the 170-page health needs assessment, released last fall, which was the culmination of a project undertaken by local hospitals, Sutter Lakeside Hospital and St. Helena Hospital Clearlake, and the Lake County Health Services Department.

In the assessment of the county, which has a population of about 65,000, it was reported that 17 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 reported that they smoke, compared to 4.8 percent of youth in the same age group statewide. Among adults, 14.5 percent statewide reported being smokers, compared to 25.9 percent in Lake County.

In our discussions of the findings with Tait, she also underlined the high rates of accidental death and underage drinking research. Studies of both of those risk factors will be aided by relevant statistics from local and state law enforcement agencies.

The series is in its very early stages and still taking shape. Additional and more specific topics may be added – and the series expanded – depending on what we uncover as we drill deeper into the reports and the Census information, and based on interviews with local officials and residents.