Substance Abuse, Obesity Concerns Top Chautauqua County Health Assessment


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MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) — Earlier this week, the Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan for Chautauqua County was released.

The top concerns, according to Interim Public Health Director Dr. Michael Faulk, are drug abuse, smoking, and obesity.





“When you look at it in the perspective of all of the other counties in NYS, we’re actually being hit really hard from an opioid burden perspective. And how they come up with that number is basically 513 out of 100,000 population. And they look at hospitalizations and Emergency Department visits, hospital discharges, and non-fatal overdoses,” explains Dr. Faulk.

According to data from 2021, overdose death rates involving opioids in Chautauqua County increased five percent. Neonatal withdrawal cases also went up.

“The number of babies born actually in opiate withdrawal, 33.8 out of 1000 births in Chautauqua County, that’s kinda mind blowing to me. While in NYS it’s 12.7 out of 1000 across the state,” says Dr. Faulk.





















In addition to the 8.6 million dollars in funding from New York State to support multiple providers through the New York State Opioid Settlement Fund, the county plans to increase the availability of, and access to, Naloxone training and kit distribution.

“We’ve been working really hard with a collaboration with the Chautauqua Substance Abuse Response Partnership in every facet of the opioid burden; education, prevention, Narcan, training, the list goes on and on. We as a county are really hitting this as hard as we can from every single direction,” assures Dr. Faulk.

Dr. Faulk says the number one cause of death locally is heart disease, followed by cancer, and respiratory illness.

“When you look at preventing chronic disease, you’ll see in the community health assessment that smoking sensations took a top spot on our priorities. So the good news is that cigarette smoking decreased from 14.1 percent in 2017 down to 12 percent in 2020,” says Dr. Faulk









The smoking disparity is divided by an income line of $25,000 a year, with a 20 percent smoking rate under the line.

The Health Department hopes to increase their social media presence to highlight the dangers of smoking and obesity.

“32 percent of Chautauqua County residents have a BMI greater than 30. 66.4 percent have a BMI greater than 25. What this means, the body mass index is sort of a measure, and it does not necessarily apply to everybody’s height and frame and that kind of thing,” says Dr. Faulk. “But for the most part, it’s a pretty good guideline.”

Despite having a lower percentage of obesity than other counties in the state, Dr. Faulk says that it is still a priority for the Health Department.

 

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