Healthcare leaders examine state of health in Broome County

By Matt Porter

April 9, 2014 Updated Apr 9, 2014 at 6:48 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) After performing poorly in state health rankings, Broome County held a panel of community leaders as part of the county health assessment plan.

The Broome County Health Assessment meeting is part of a four-year plan beginning in 2013 and will continue until 2017 when it will be reevaluated.

Representatives of the two major hospitals, Lourdes and UHS, were present along with members of local school districts and various community health services.

Each member of the panel gave an update about their work towards the three priorities outlined in the county's health assessment.

Broome County Health Department Executive Director Claudia Edwards said each member has something to offer to further the county's goals.

"When you're talking about changing behaviors and improving health indicators such as mortality and morbidity, you need an entire community to intervene," Edwards said.

Broome County ranked 48th out of the state's 64 counties with heart disease being one of the main causes of death.

One in five people will turn 65 years old in the next two years, putting Broome County well above the national average.

The county's first priority focuses on preventing accidental falls, which overwhelmingly affects the elderly.

UHS and Lourdes both have specific programs to help identify people who are most at risk for falls and to help them be more stable.

The second priority involves preventing chronic diseases, most of which is being targeted through reducing obesity.

The plan is to target nutrition and exercise in schools, as well as create better programs for health management in older adults.

The third priority is to improve mental health and substance abuse by helping enroll eligible patients in the Medicaid Health home program, where they can receive more precise treatments that lead to better outcomes and shorter hospital stays.

The county plans to evaluate each program in the health assessment next year and every year through 2017.

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