Health rankings show improved health in region, but Miami-Dade struggles with access to clinical care

 

dchang@MiamiHerald.com

Miami-Dade and Broward residents can expect to live longer and generally healthier lives than their counterparts in Florida’s 65 other counties, according to an annual health ranking produced by researchers at the University of Wisconsin with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The 2013 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report released Wednesday crunched immense amounts of public data — including mortality rates, morbidity, health behaviors such as smoking and exercise, access to clinical care, social and economic factors, and environmental quality — and found that Miami-Dade and Broward residents experience fewer premature deaths and report fewer days of poor health than the rest of Florida.

South Florida residents also ranked high in healthy behaviors, as measured by statewide rates of adult smoking, sexually transmitted infections, alcohol use, diet and exercise, and other factors, with Miami-Dade ranked No. 2, and Broward No. 7 in the state.

But similarities between the neighboring counties breaks down from there.

Broward residents enjoy better clinical care, according to the report, which ranked Miami-Dade near the bottom of that category, ranking 60 of 67, and Broward in the middle at No. 31, in terms of percentage of uninsured residents, ratio of primary physicians to people, preventable hospital stays reported and access to diabetic and mammography screenings.

Miami-Dade also ranked lower for social and economic factors, ranking 50 of 67, compared to No.13 for Broward. That category measured high school graduation rates, unemployment, children living in poverty, violent crime and other factors.

Health officials in both counties said the data will help them shape public policies and set priorities.

“We have work to do,’’ said Lillian Rivera, administrator of the Miami-Dade Health Department.

She said the rankings will be used in academic settings, hospitals, government offices and by legislators to shape healthcare in the community.

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