Ohio’s 88 counties were recently ranked for overall health, and two Miami Valley counties dropped into the bottom ten.
The ranking was conducted through the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program, run by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
According to the 2019 rankings, Montgomery County fell six spots since last year, from 75th to 81st in the state for overall health. Clark County dropped ten spots, from 70th to 80th place.
“One of the things that very much made an impact was the substance abuse,” said Christina Conover, director of nursing for the Clark County Combined Health District.
Officials in both Montgomery and Clark counties blame the lower rankings on the drug crisis and the number of overdose deaths.
But officials in both counties told 2 NEWS the number of overdose deaths declined in 2018, which was not included in the ranking’s measure for premature death.
In Montgomery County, accidental overdose deaths dropped by nearly half, from 566 in 2017 to 294 in 2018, according to public health officials.
Clark County had 106 overdose deaths in 2017 compared to 64 the following year, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.
Conover credits a coalition of organizations focused on the drug epidemic, which is now working on opening a recovery center in Springfield early this summer.
“That is going to be an environment that is goal-oriented for persons to be able to get back into jobs, meet some of their personal goals,” Conover said.
Some told 2 NEWS they’re seeing more evidence Clark County is on the right path.
Eric Mata, a former drug addict who works with others in recovery, serves on the Clark County Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Support Coalition.
“I know for a fact, right now, if a man or a woman needs drug or alcohol treatment in Clark County, they can definitely get those services,” Mata said.
Groups working together is making an impact, he added, with an increasing number of resources available to those struggling with addiction.
“When you just treat the drug use and don’t address the housing, or don’t address the transportation, or don’t address the food resources, of course people are going to be unhealthy,” Mata said. “But now what we’re trying to do is work together to fight this as a more holistic approach.”
Two Miami Valley counties, Mercer and Auglaize, made it into the top ten in this year’s rankings.
For a complete list of the 2019 rankings and a breakdown of statistics by county, click here.