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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018 3 months ago

Flagler is 14th healthiest county in the state

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The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County is expanding its programs.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Flagler County — and Palm Coast — are seeing improvements in health, according to Florida Department of Health Flagler County Director Bob Snyder. 

For the second year in a row, Flagler is ranked 14th from the top out of the state’s 67 counties in terms of overall health. That’s up from four years ago, when Flagler ranked 22nd. The county is also 28th in terms of length of life, and sixth in terms of quality of life. 

“It truly does matter where you live, where you work, where you play,” Snyder said. “What’s our socioeconomoic status? What are those social determinants of health that basically predict what our health outcomes will be? You’ll see clearly what I mean.” 

Neighboring St. Johns, he added, is ranked first in overall health. Volusia is ranked 44th, and Putnam is ranked 66th. 

St. Johns, Snyder noted, has the highest median household income, educational attainment, and the greatest percentage of individuals with health insurance in the state. 

“You can see the connection,” he said. Health behaviors inform the overall health statistic, too: 15% of Flagler County residents smoke, 63% are overweight or obese and 16% are uninsured. 

Flagler’s number one cause of death is cancer, followed by heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease. 

Flagler County had 20 suicides in 2016 and the same number in 2017. Of all car crash deaths, 40% involved impaired drivers. 

With its staff of 50, the Department of Health in Flagler County health with 15,671 people in Flagler last year and provided 10,000 immunizations, Snyder said. 

The vaccination rate, Snyder said, “has plummeted. ... We’re going to do our best to re-raise that vaccination rate.” 

The department also managed the care of 312 people during the hurricanes. 

The department of health also provides health care to Medicaid patients, provides for the dental needs of 5,000 children on Medicaid, administers the Women, Infants and Children program, provides prenatal care and planning, manages all school health services and track, investigates and monitors reportable diseases, and screens for and treats sexually transmitted diseases. 

Rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia are up across Florida, including in Flagler County, Snyder said. 

“We have about seven or eight walk-ins a day of men or women worried about STDs and wanting to be treated immediately,” he said. 

The department is also treating 80 patients with HIV, and has their viral loads down to undetectable levels. It’s planning to roll out a program to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a medication taken daily as a preventative measure by people at high risk of contracting HIV. 

The department plans to double its existing dental program and expand its school dental sealant program, Snyder said, and is partnering with Florida Hospital Flagler on a diabetes self-management education program. 

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