Health study paints flawed picture of parishMar 1st, 2010 | By admin | Category: News
A study released Feb. 17 by County Health Rankings puts St. Bernard Parish near the bottom of the state with regard to health. Out of 64 Louisiana parishes, the study ranked St. Bernard at 62.
However, a closer look at the study reveals a somewhat skewed picture of life and health in the parish. That’s because many of the statistics for the study were gathered in 2005 and 2006, years in which everything in St. Bernard, including health, was disrupted by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The study examined health according to six main categories: mortality, morbidity, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. St. Bernard ranked from the mid-50s to 63 in all categories but two.
For health behaviors – which examined smoking, obesity and drinking – St. Bernard was 43rd in the state. Surprisingly, the parish’s highest ranking, 38th, was in the physical environment category.
Katrina-related discrepancies seem to have had the biggest impact on two categories in the study: clinical care and social and economic factors. In clinical care, St. Bernard’s largest gap involved access to (or lack of) a primary care provider. Overall in the state, there are about 119 primary care providers for every 100,000 residents. In St. Bernard, though, there was only 45 per 100,000 residents.
That number, though, was pulled from 2006.
Another statistic which ranked St. Bernard noticeably lower than the rest of the state was the high school graduation rate. While the rest of the state reported 60 percent of high school freshmen graduating in four years, St. Bernard had only a quarter finish in the same time frame.
Superintendent of Schools Doris Voitier said those statistics overlook the obvious truth. That statistic was taken from the 2005-2006 school year.
“Many of these students moved to other districts in Louisiana, to private schools, or out of state,” Voitier said. “Obviously they were not counted as having graduated in four years.”
Voitier reported that, according to statistics from the State Department of Education, Chalmette High School’s graduation rate from 2007-2008 was over 75 percent. For the district as a whole, including Rowley Alternative School, the number was 71 percent.
“Just like every other statistic that applies to St. Bernard, all of those were extremely skewed after the storm,” Parish Council Chair Wayne Landry said of the study. “A lot of the norms around the country didn’t exist in St. Bernard post-Katrina.”