The Public Health Division of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS) is pleased to issue the State of Guilford County’s Health Report (SOTCH) for 2015.
“We are pleased to see some of our important health indicators improve. Our Department and staff continue to provide and support innovative programs and partner with the community to address important health concerns that affect our residents,” stated Merle Green, Health Director.
Important updates for each of the health priority areas include:
Poor Birth Outcomes
In 2014, 48 babies died during their first year of life in Guilford County, down slightly from 53 in 2013. The overall infant mortality rate in 2014 was 7.9 per 1000 live births but racial and ethnic disparities persist. The rate for African Americans was 13.6 per 1,000 live births, as compared to 3.8 for Whites and 5.2 for Hispanics. In 2013, the overall infant mortality rate was 8.6 per 1,000 live births, as compared to 7.1 for Whites, 12.9 for African Americans and 3.8 for Hispanics. The Guilford County Coalition on Infant Mortality’s Adopt-A-Mom Program ensured that 249 expectant women received prenatal care services in 2015. Many of these women may not have otherwise received prenatal care because they fall in the gaps of being Medicaid ineligible, lacking private insurance or having funds to pay for prenatal care. Women are given education, prenatal vitamins and case management as appropriate.
Prenatal care has been shown to improve birth outcomes; however, the percentage of women entering late into prenatal care or not receiving prenatal care increased across all racial and ethnic groups between 2012 and 2014.
In July 2013, Health Department’s Maternity Clinics began offering CenteringPregnancy™ prenatal care, which integrates health assessment, education and support within a group setting. In 2015, Public Health served 112 expectant women through 13 CenteringPregnancy™ groups. Participants’ birth outcomes have exceeded program goals for premature birth, low birth weight and breastfeeding. Also in 2015, the Centering Healthcare Institute of Boston, Massachusetts approved Guilford County’s CenteringPregnancy™ as a training site.
Of the 4,193 deaths in 2014, over half of all deaths in Guilford County were due to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic lower respiratory disease and diabetes. To address chronic disease prevention and management, GCDHHS continues to support improved access to healthy foods through the Mobile Oasis Farmers Market and the Warnersville Urban Farm as well as efforts to improve availability of healthy food options at convenience stores in county food deserts.
Though nationally heart disease is the number one leading cause of death and cancer is the second leading cause of death. In Guilford County, cancer is the leading cause of death. Public Health promotes healthy behaviors to prevent heart disease and cancer.
Though there have been long-term improvements in mortality rates for some chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke, significant racial disparities persist. In an effort to address these disparities, the Evans-Blount Community Health Center has operated since 2010 and is a partnership between the Health Department and community groups in order to provide health care to one of the lower income county areas.
Poor nutrition is a risk factor for chronic diseases. For lower income households, access to healthy affordable foods can be a challenge. The US Department of Agriculture designated areas in Guilford County as “food deserts”— nine in the city of Greensboro and six in High Point. This means many of our residents have limited access to healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2015, the Division of Public Health and community partners continued the Mobile Oasis Farmers Market This effort included using a mobile trailer.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
Guilford County had consistently higher rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV infection compared to North Carolina rates.
Because Guilford County’s rates for HIV infection, syphilis and chlamydia all exceed NC rates, health education staff with Public Health Division partners with Nia Community Action Center, Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency and Triad Health Project to provide a network of testing and counseling services throughout Guilford County.
For more information on these and other health statistics, contact the Guilford County Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Epidemiologist at 336-641-6844.