South Snohomish County residents are living longer and being hospitalized less frequently, according to 2011-2015 data analyzed by the Snohomish Health District.
The hospitalization rate, which measures how many people per 100,000 are hospitalized in a year, dropped from 7,226 in 2011 to 6,648 in 2015. This trend has been seen elsewhere, however the 8 percent drop in the South Snohomish County hospitalization rate is double the 4 percent drop in the rest of Snohomish County, according to the analysis.
The life expectancy at birth and mortality rates have both improved, with the life expectancy increasing from 81 years in 2011 to 82 years in 2015 and the mortality rate per 100,000 decreasing 9 percent from 666 in 2011 to 607 in 2015. Both are statistically significant improvements.
The Verdant Health Commission partnered with the Snohomish Health District to conduct the assessment of the health needs of the people living in its service area, including Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway, and parts of Bothell and unincorporated Snohomish County. Verdant commissioned the most recent assessment to compare the community’s health status to data from 2013.
“These improvements reflect a healthier population in important areas,” said Dr. Bruce Williams, member of the Board of Commissioners for the Verdant Health Commission, president of the Swedish Edmonds Medical Staff, and an Edmonds-based physician.
“When the hospitalization rate decreases to the extent that it has here in South Snohomish County, that reflects a better quality of life and a cost savings to the public,” Williams said. “At Verdant, we are working to improve the health and well-being of the community through prevention, education and access to healthcare services, so we are thrilled to see these significant improvements.”
While progress is headed in the right direction in these areas, the analysis showed other health measurements that require more time and attention, Williams said.
Examples of the areas of concern include:
· An increase in youth symptoms of depression;
· An obesity rate of 25 percent;
· Low physical activity, with 36 percent of adults not meeting the guidelines and 75 percent of youth not meeting the guidelines;
· Low dental insurance coverage, with 29 percent of the population not having coverage;
· Low regular dental visits, with 27 percent of the population not having a dental visit in the past year; and
· An increase in the suicide rate.
Verdant identified both mental health support and adult access to dental care as priority areas after its 2013 community health needs assessment. To date in 2016, Verdant has invested approximately $1.8 million in community-based programs to support these two areas, with plans to continue support in 2017.
To view a summary report of the 2016 health assessment or the complete data tables analyzed by the health district, visit http://verdanthealth.org/about-us/our-work/our-community/.