AppHealthCare Releases Community Health Report for Watauga County

By Nathan Ham

AppHealthCare announced on Wednesday that through collaboration with numerous agencies as well as surveys and data collection, a Community Health Report has been developed for each of the three counties (Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany) in the District of ‘AppHealthCare.

The report for each county is drawn up every three years. The Watauga County report was compiled through partnerships with the Appalachia Regional Health System, the Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative, the Appalachia District Health Board and AppHealthCare.

As part of the Community Health Report, several factors are included to determine which needs and concerns are most important to the county. Several of these data points include household income, poverty level, food insecurity, unemployment data, community safety, affordable housing, and mental/behavioral health.

According to the Watauga County report, the top three areas to focus community resources on are mental health, housing, and family/social support systems.

Some of the key data points collected from surveys showed that 14% of the population said they lacked food and could not afford to get more food and 19% of the Watauga County population feared to run out of food at a certain time. point. A quarter of the county’s population surveyed said that at some point in the past year they had to quarantine at home due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

The county’s main concern was with mental health issues. A total of 79% of the county population believe that mental health support and resources were needed or extremely needed. 80% of respondents felt that a drug treatment and recovery program was necessary or extremely necessary and 61% of respondents said that a needle exchange service was necessary or extremely necessary.

Cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death in Watauga County. Alzheimer’s disease ranks third, followed by chronic lower respiratory diseases and unintentional injuries sustained in accidents. Suicide continues to climb and is the ninth leading cause of death in Watauga County.

On a more positive note, Watauga County was ranked 10th out of North Carolina’s 100 counties for overall health in the 2020 County Health Rankings and ranked below the state average for obesity. among adults, the teenage birth rate and sexually transmitted infections. Watauga County’s poverty rate is also declining. In 2015, 31.4% of the population lived below the federal poverty guidelines (a family of four with a household income below $24,600). This number fell to 25.3%.

Watauga County’s violent crime rate is nearly four times lower than the rest of the state, according to data from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s 2019 annual crime reporting data. include homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. .

Overall, life expectancy at birth in Watauga County is 81.3 years, compared to 78.2 years for all of North Carolina. On average, women in the county live to be 83.8 years old while men live to be 79 years old.

The full 66-page report can be read below.

Some of the topics mentioned in the survey of Watauga County residents.

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