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Audrain among best in area in county health rankings

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 8:32 am

Audrain County health officials say they are pleased with a recent health ranking report that places the county in the top third in the state of Missouri’s 115 counties.
According to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report, Audrain County is ranked No. 43 in the state and some findings put the county in a healthier light than some of its surrounding counties.
In comparison, Pike County was ranked No. 67, Callaway County was No. 76, Monroe County was No. 80, Randolph County was No. 81, and Montgomery finished as No. 83. Audrain County did fall behind Ralls County, which was No. 8, and Boone County, which received the No. 9 ranking.
“I’m pleasantly surprised with where we ranked; we ranked pretty well,” said Audrain City-County Health Unit Administrator Kevin Lowrance. “Taking a look at our ranking, we ranked 43rd out of 115 counties; that is pretty solid.”
The report was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which collaborates with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to bring the program’s results to cities, counties, and states across the nation.
The study provides a snapshot of statistics for every county and state in the nation with statistics on mortality, morbidity, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
One of the positives in the report shows the county with a better than state average for Mammography screening by one percent at 66 percent. Boone led the area at 74 percent followed by Ralls at 71 percent, Montgomery’s 69 percent, Callaway at 61 percent, Monroe at 60 percent, and Pike at just 55 percent.
Diabetic screening tied the state mark at 84 percent. All of the area counties besides Pike County finished higher than the average. Pike County had an 83 percent.
The county’s unemployment rate was .6 percent less than the state average of 9.6 percent. Monroe County had the highest rate at 13 percent and Montgomery County exceeded the average at 10.8 percent while the remaining counties were under the average. Boone County finished the lowest at 6.4 percent, followed by Callaway County at 8.1 percent.
Audrain County had the lowest violent crime rates in the area at 155, which is way below the state average of 518. Pike was at 162, Montgomery at 184, Callaway at 229, Monroe at 260, Ralls at 297, and Boone at 433.
“We have less violent crime than the counties that surround us,” Lowrance noted.
Premature deaths were also lower than the state average of 7,981 at 7,287 per 100,000 residents in Audrain County. The county is higher than the national benchmark of 5,466.
Other than Boone’s 6,131 and Ralls’ 6,673, the other counties finished way higher than the state average. Monroe County was at 9,836, Pike County had 8,654, and Callaway County reported 8,277.
Callaway County was the only county to finish higher than the state average of 8.1 percent for low birth weight at 9.6 percent.
While there were many positives for Audrain County, there were some negatives that county officials say the report helps to point out.
In just ranking health behaviors, the county was ranked No. 85. Boone County finished No. 1 followed by Ralls (14), Montgomery (62), Pike (67), Monroe (79), Audrain (85), and Callaway (107).
Audrain County has 11 more reports in Teen Birth Rate than the state average and led the area.
They were followed by Pike’s 50 and Montgomery’s 47.
Though Audrain and Callaway counties both finished below the state average for sexually transmitted infections, they nearly doubled most of the other counties except for Boone’s 580 cases.
Audrain, Callaway, and Monroe were the only three counties in the area to finish with higher than average percentages for adult smoking at 30, 29, and 27 percent respectively. The state average is 24 percent.
All of the area counties finished at or over the percentage for adult obesity except for Boone’s 28 percent. Callaway County had the top mark of 36 percent.
A new measurement tool for fast food restaurants showed Callaway and Audrain as the only two counties exceeding the 47 percent state average percentage.
All but Boone and Monroe finished with lower than state average for access to recreational facilities.
In an effort to promote physical activity, the ACCHU has organized an effort with the assistance of both the cities of Vandalia and Mexico to purchase bike racks for the cities.
An application has been filed for a grant through the Missouri Foundation for Health totaling $10,000, which would purchase approximately 18 rack.
“There are very few bike racks available (in the two cities),” Lowrance said.
Installation will be done by both cities with a focus in the park areas, downtown locations, and possibly at schools.
In regards to education, Audrain and Callaway counties were the only ones to finish with less than 86 percent for high school graduation.
Audrain County had 28-percent for children in poverty, which led the area and state average of 21 percent. While the other counties finished lower than the state average, Montgomery had 27-percent and Pike had 24-percent.
The full report can be studied through an interactive database at
What’s Ahead
Vandalia and Mexico area residents will be able to drop off their expired medication for proper disposal from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. This is the third time for the collection.
Last time, nearly 150 lbs. of medication was collected at collection centers which include ACCHU in Mexico and the Vandalia Police Department.
“(Vandalia Police Chief) Tony (Laird) does a good job helping out with it,” Lowrance said.
Lowrance also noted that candidates are currently being interviewed for Audrain County’s Board of Health.
He said a swearing in ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 18 at the County Commission office.
The board will include two representatives from Mexico, one from the Van-Far/Laddonia area, one from the county’s eastern district, and one from the county’s western district.