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Pasco again declines in health rankings, now 45th

Published:   |   Updated: March 25, 2013 at 02:00 PM

Pasco County dropped to 45th in the state in a leading indicator among 2012 health rankings released Wednesday.

The county rated 42nd in 2011 among health outcomes, which accounts for death, chronic diseases and overall health, according to the Pasco County Health Department. The numbers come from the fourth annual County Health Rankings and Roadmaps through the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The county’s health factors ranking, which weighs risky behaviors of residents, dropped to 28th in the state. The county had rated 24th the previous year.

It’s the third year in a row that Pasco’s key indicators have fallen.

“As the new health officer in the county, the rankings are a valuable resource for me and set a goal with measures to improve upon,” Pasco Health Department Administrator Mike Napier responded Wednesday to inquiries from The Suncoast News.

Napier called upon Pasco individuals, employers and the community at large to strive for better results. The health department recently helped form a Get Healthy Pasco coalition.

Napier became the administrator of the Pasco public health agency in December. He had led the Osceola County health agency for some 9 years, during which time the Orlando-area county rose in rank to the second healthiest county in the state.

“We are still processing the numbers, but of particular concern is our premature death rate here in Pasco,” Napier said.

“Although the number of premature deaths has decreased from last year, we remain higher than the state and national measures,” Napier noted

In addition, Pasco’s lower ranking in health outcomes was in large part a result of more residents experiencing poor mental health days and more low-birth-weight babies, Krautner explained.

“Secondly, healthy behaviors, or better stated, unhealthy behavior results for Pasco County that are higher than state and national averages are adult smoking, adult obesity and physical inactivity,” Napier added.

“If we are going to have a healthier Pasco we must take on this challenge,” Napier said, “individually with personal responsibility, encouraged by employers resulting in a healthier workforce and by the community to say we care about our people.

“The rankings shed light on obstacles to health for our residents and identify opportunities for improvement that can make Pasco a healthier place to live,” Napier concluded.

In Pasco, partners are coming together and collaborating to improve health measures, Krautner said.

“The department has created synergy with many stakeholders to implement the Community Health Improvement Plan, which has focused efforts to address chronic disease and access to care,” Krautner wrote.

The newly established Get Healthy Pasco coalition is a result of these planning efforts and works to address the burden of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes on our community.

The rankings include a snapshot of each county in Florida with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking.