Lamar County is #2 in state
By Dana Gower of The Lamar Times
Lamar County has been ranked as the second-healthiest county overall in Mississippi based on a variety of health factors, a result that isn't surprising to at least one local physician.
The county rankings are a component of the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health project, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Rankings are based on weighted scores of four types of factors: Health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic and physical environment.
Lamar County ranked first in social and economic factors, second in clinical care (quality of care and access to care), sixth in health behaviors and 23rd in physical environment. In the area of quality of care, Wesley Medical Center had the lowest rate of death from heart attack in the state, with a death rate of 13.2 percent.
According to the organization's Web site, counties in each of the 50 states are ranked according to summaries of a variety of health measures.
"We only rank counties and county equivalents within a state," the Web site states. "The major goal of the rankings is to raise awareness about the many factors that influence health, and that health varies from place to place, not to produce a list of the healthiest 10 or 20 counties in the nation and only focus on that."
Dr. J.D. Dumas III, who has been at Oak Grove Family Clinic for nearly eight years, said he is not surprised by the ranking based on the health behaviors he has seen among his patients.
Board certified in family medicine, Dumas said good health comes down in large part to having access to health care and taking the initiative to take advantage of it.
"I tell my patients all the time, you wouldn't buy a new car and drive it until the engine light comes on," he said. "When the engine light comes on in the human body, you end up in ICU."
Dumas said people, at a minimum, should see their doctor on an annual basis.
"Let's say you have high blood pressure and you haven't seen a doctor in five, 10, 20 years," he said. That could easily lead to heart disease, a stroke or kidney failure.
"Just one little maintenance exam, taking one pill a day, would take care of that," he said. "If you catch something early, a lot of diseases are curable. It's just a matter of staying on top of it."
Forrest County had an overall ranking of 35th in the state.