Sangamon Co. Ranks Low In Health Outcomes; What Now?

Feb 18, 2014

Credit Source=

It might surprise you to learn Sangamon County ranked 80th out of 102 Illinois counties when it pertains to health outcomes.  That's according to a survey by the County Health Rankings and Roadmap program.

After all, Springfield is known for quality medical care.  But apparently, more work can be done. 

Dr. David Steward, Associate Dean for Community Health and Service at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, says there are some key findings that are troubling. Primarily, a lot of low birth weight babies and a higher proportion of people dying at a younger age than normal. 

While Sangamon County's rate of uninsured is better than the average, there still problems.  "There is a sense from some in the community that it's hard for them to have access to regular care," Steward said. 

"This is a snapshot and these are just statistics.  What they do is highlight that there are problems we should be paying attention to and that there are ways to measure these things," he said.

The real question is how will the county respond? Steward believes the entire community needs to get involved.

"There are people who have low educational levels or low income and they may not be included in trying to find the solutions.  A lot of times there is a real tendency by people in positions of authority to say here's the solution," he said.  Steward adds people struggling with such problems should be heard from.  He admits that can be a challenge to get them engaged. 

A positive development, he says, is that hospitals and the county health department are doing a combined community health needs assessment.  Previously, these required studies were done independently.  Steward says by working together, it could get everyone on the same page and figure out steps toward improvement.