07/22/04 — Wayne death rate is slightly above state's

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Wayne death rate is slightly above state's

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on July 22, 2004 2:01 PM

Wayne County residents tend to die more often from heart disease, cancer and diabetes than do North Carolinians as a whole.

The annual death rate in Wayne has consistently been slightly higher than the state average, according to a report completed recently by the Wayne County Health Department.

From 1998 to 2002, the county recorded 9.3 deaths a year per 1,000 population, compared to 8.7 per 1,000 statewide.

On the positive side, the death rate for Wayne County has declined more than the state average between 1979 and 2002. Wayne's total rate dropped 17.7 percent versus the state's drop of 14.7 percent. The decline in the death rate is attributed to healthier lifestyles and advances in medical care.

The top killer of Wayne County residents is heart disease; cancer is second; cerebrovascular disease is third; and diabetes is fourth, according to the report.

The unemployment and poverty rates have also dropped here in recent years, said the report that county Health Director James Roosen gave out Wednesday to the Board of Health.

The state requires local health departments to do community health assessments at least once every four years. The reports give the departments data they need to encourage people to take better care of themselves.

Highlights from the 2004 report include:

*Although Wayne County residents have had higher employment rates than most North Carolinians, our average income has typically been thousands less than the state average -- $21,738 vs. $27,308 in 2001, for example -- and a higher percentage of us live in poverty.

*Wayne County Social Services is substantiating about a third more cases of abuse and neglect than it did five years ago. Statewide averages have remained constant.

*About 75 percent of all abuse and neglect claims involve alcoholism or drug abuse.

*Around 20,575 county residents under the age of 65, or 20 percent, did not have health insurance, according to a 2002 survey

*Medicaid spending has increased dramatically in recent years as more people have become eligible. One in every five Wayne County residents receives Medicaid benefits. Half of the county's births are covered.

*Wayne County had 181 physicians and 1,233 nurses, according to the most recent survey. Those numbers do not include those who work at Seymour Johnson or the federal prison.

*The Wayne Initiative for School Health program continues to be busy at four middle schools. During the 2003-2004 school year, the WISH clinics did 482 vaccinations, 199 hearing exams, 215 vision screenings and 471 mental health treatments, among other services.

*The Wayne Action Teams for Community Health (WATCH) mobile clinic continues a pace of around 200 visits a year. In a recent six-month period, the clinic had 4,900 registered patients, the vast majority of whom are uninsured or indigent.

*Around 40 percent of births in Wayne County are to single mothers, compared to 35 percent statewide. Among minority births, the out-of-wedlock percentage has been consistently around 68 percent.

*Although Hispanics and Latinos make up 5 percent of the county's population, they account for 15 percent of births in the county.

*Wayne County children have around the same rate of dental decay as children across the state. About 23 percent of kindergartners have untreated decay.

*While the number of chlamydia, syphillis and HIV cases declined here in 2003, gonorrhea cases increased from 173 in 2002 to 234.

The assessment can also be read on the Internet. Go to www.waynegov.com/health and then click on "Community Health Assessment."