McLean County Study: Race, Economics Drive Health Outcomes | WGLT

McLean County Study: Race, Economics Drive Health Outcomes

Aug 1, 2019

A coalition of health advocates in McLean County has produced a study which said the most pressing health needs in the county are similar to what they were in 2016 when the group produced its first report.

The McLean County Community Health Council also highlights how racial and economic divides may contribute to different health outcomes. 

The council said the county’s biggest health concerns are access to appropriate health care; behavioral health, including mental health and substance abuse; and healthy eating and active living.

“The priorities for 2019 are essentially the same as those selected in 2016 with the renaming of obesity to healthy eating/active living,” said Sally Gambacorta, community health director at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital. “The benefit to having the same health priorities is that we have momentum, as well as numerous accomplishments, in each of these areas due to the great collaboration with all of our community partners.”

The McLean County Health Department is one of several community partners that will be looking to implement plans to address the county's largest health needs.
Credit Staff / WGLT

The report was compiled by officials from the McLean County Health Department, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center and Chestnut Health Systems.

The council includes 39 organizations in McLean County representing health care facilities, faith-based and private organizations, social service organizations and city and regional planning.

McLean County Health Department Assistant Director Cathy Coverston Anderson said the report shows clear disparities based on ethnic and socioeconomic factors. 

"Sometimes if we look just at the county rate, it looked good, but when you broke it down is really revealed some serious concerns," she said. 

The report shows African-Americans in McLean County face higher risks for heart failure, significantly higher risks for diabetes and high blood pressure and have more emergency room visits than the general population. 

The study also identified four zip codes where the highest socioeconomic needs exist; 61701 (Bloomington), 61726 (Chenoa), 61728 (Colfax) and 61774 (Stanford).

Erin Kennedy, manager of the Center for Healthy Lifestyles at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, said health ratings overall are taking a disturbing trend. 

"Generally speaking, we are less and less healthy as we go throughout the years, but there's a lot of considerations to take into that," Kennedy said. 

The report shows McLean County residents live longer than the average Illinoisian. Women, on average, live to age 82 in McLean County and the men have a life expectancy of 78 years. 

The council also identified three other areas of need; heart disease, oral health and respiratory disease. 

The council plans to work this fall to develop a community health implementation plan and set specific objectives to address the health care priorities. It plans to finalize the plan by February 2020. 

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