Issues 1 and 2: Communication and Awareness / Healthcare Affordability
- A greater proportion of children are now covered by health insurance with an increase of 3.7% over the 1995 rate.
- There have been a significant decrease in the number of respondents who receive coverage from publicly funded programs (either Medicare or Medicaid), with a total reduction of 11.1%.
- There was a decrease of 8.8% in the percentage of respondents who stated that they do not have health insurance because they cannot afford it between 1995 and 2000 (73.4% vs. 64.6%).
- The amount of respondents not eligible for health insurance through employment rose from 4.7% in 1995 to 9.2% in 2000.
- The number of respondents who feel they do not need health insurance rose from 6.3% in 1995 to 9.2% in 2000.
- 100% of 2000 respondents stated they saw the doctor on a regular basis throughout pregnancy, however, the percentage of respondents who stated they saw a doctor in the first three months of pregnancy dropped from 90% in 1995 to 86.7% in 2000.
- According to the “Community Health Status Report” for Lycoming County published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Lycoming County ranks high (23.5% receive “no care” in the first trimester) as compared to national statistics (17% receive “no care” in the first trimester). LCHIC survey statistics are consistent with these findings with 23.3% of respondents reporting they received no care in the first three months of pregnancy.
- The percentage of respondents who have tried to control their weight through fad diets has increased from 2.2% in 1995 to 9.1% in 2000.
- The percentage of men who exercise 3-5 times per week was reported at 61.4%, while only 58.4% of women exercise 3-5 times per week. One of the Healthy People 2010 goals related to exercise calls for at least 30% of adults age 18 and older to engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes at least 5 times per week.
- The percentage of respondents, according to gender, who eat five servings of fruits or vegetables everyday: Males 32.8%, Females 67.2%.
- Overall, respondents who need services have improved in all areas except time management and shelter from abuse.
- Dramatic improvements in access of services were noted in: Learning how to stay healthy, Stress or anxiety management, Grief issues, Affordable housing, Unemployment, Transportation for older people and persons with disabilities (in wheelchair, handicapped), Good schools, Recycling programs, Changes in family life, Money management, Dating/sexuality, eating disorders, recreation/entertainment opportunities, visiting nurses/help at home, and help with caring for older people in the family.
Focus Group Input on Main Issues
Business Owners/ Management Focus Group
- Group participants overwhelmingly indicated the high cost of health insurance is the most pressing concern they face as business owners and managers.
- Ability to attract and maintain viable workforce.
- Improving negative perception of the region.
Women Focus Group.
- Access to affordable health care and support services – major problem for women (particularly single heads of households) who traditionally work in lower wage-paying jobs that do not offer health insurance.
- Diet and exercise – participants stated that they felt many people in the community have weight problems and do not understand the correlation between diet, exercise and maintaining good physical health.
Senior Citizen Focus Group
- Access to affordable prescription mediation – group participants overwhelmingly indicated the high cost of prescription medication as the most pressing issue facing senior citizens.
- High cost of health insurance and preventative healthcare.
- Lack of information about services designed to help seniors.
Uninsured Residents Focus Group
- Inability to access affordable healthcare in Lycoming County, including routine check-ups, dental work, eye exams, and screenings for cancers and other preventable diseases.
- Inability to access affordable health insurance.
- Across the board the number of students living with two parents all or most of the time has decreased.
- The percentage of students who spend one or more hours in an average week in clubs or organizations at school (excluding sports) has increased by at least 11% across all grade levels.
- The percentage of students who are at home for two hours on an average day without adult supervision has decreased by at least 6% across all grade levels.
- With the exception of 10th grade, the percentage of students who agree or strongly agree that it is against their values to have sex while they are teenagers has increased.
- There is a 4% increase in the number of 10th grade students who disagree or strongly disagree that it is against their values to have sex while they are teenagers.
- The number of students who have not had sexual intercourse has increased in every grad level except 10th grade.
- The percentage of 10th grade students who have had sexual intercourse twice has increased by 2%.
- The number of students who have had sexual intercourse four or more times has decreased across all grade levels.
- The number of students who have had sexual intercourse who use a contraceptive device at every intercourse has increased in grades 7, 10, and 12 but has decreased in grades 6,9, and 11.
- The percent of students who have felt depressed most or all of the time for the last month has increased in grades 7, 10, 11, and 12.
- The percentage of students who have not attempted suicide has decreased in all grades except 7th where it increased by 21%.
- The percentage of students who have attempted suicide two or more times in their life has increased in all grades except 6th.
- The number of students who have been physically abused by an adult one of more times has increased across all grade levels.
- The number of students who have been physically abused by an adult between four and ten times has increased in all grades except 6th.
- The number of student who have been physically abused by an adult more than ten times has increased in both grades 6 and 9.
- The number of children who have had an eye test, hearing test, dentist or doctors visit in 2000 has increased from 1995.
- The number of children with lead poisoning has decreased by 4.6% since 1995.
- Immunizations in children have risen since 1995.
- The use of seatbelts and bike helmets among children has risen since 1995.
- Interaction with children related to discussion about sex increased between 1995 and 2000 by 19.1%.
- Statistics indicate that 10th grade is a time of high-risk behaviors.
- Statistics indicate that 6th and 7th graders have improved in their resiliency skills.
- 92.5% of respondents state that their child’s school helps them with their child’s education problems.
Women’s Focus Group
- Youth and family issues – participants felt that government agencies that are supposed to help families deal with parenting, youth-at-risk and other crisis issues are ineffective in their approach. Participants also felt that teen pregnancy was high in their community because schools “reward” students who are pregnant with “special classes” and other privileges. They felt that young people received “mixed” messages about being sexually active, and feel a more consistent message of “abstinence” on the part of parents, school and faith communities. Participants feel that there is a lack of constructive, community-based programs for youth that provide role models and “healthy alternatives” for youth.
- The number of students who have drank alcohol one or more times in the last 12 months has decreased across all grade levels
- Tobacco use among teenagers in Lycoming County has decreased compared to the 1995 survey.
- While marijuana use has decreased among grades 6,7 and 9, it has increased among grades 10,11 and 12.
- Experimental cocaine use among grades 7, 9, 10 and 11 has increased.
- The number of respondents who drink on a daily basis has decreased from 7.5% in 1995 to 5.7% in 2000.
- The number of respondents who have taken sleeping pills has increased from 4.8% in 1995 to 7.6% in 2000.
- Of the respondents who make under $10,000 annually, 30% smoke.
The number of respondent who stated that a member of their household drinks or takes drugs has decreased from 14.5% in 1995 to 11.4% in 2000 although the response to a member of my household gets drunk or high increased from 2.8% in 1995 to 4.7% in 2000.
Substance Abuse/ Mental Health Focus Group
- Mental Health Issues – participants felt that mental health issues (specifically depression and uncontrolled “anger”) were prevalent in their community, but “masked” by a lack of community awareness.
- Substance Abuse Issues – participants noted that alcohol and illegal substances were common in Lycoming County, especially in the suburban and rural areas. It is relatively easy to access illegal substances in Lycoming County and many treatment programs tend to rely too much on using medication to relieve drug addiction.
- Access to treatment and other supportive services – participants felt that the general public was not aware of the services available within their own community.
Youth Focus Group
Substance abuse (illegal drugs, alcohol and smoking) – peer pressure and desire to be “cool” are the primary reasons why young people start drinking. Overwhelmingly, group participants thought that “stress” (in school because of grades, friends, tests and sports) and “peer pressure” were the main reason why young people start smoking. Adults and family members in their lives had the greatest influence on kids’ decisions to try drugs.
- The number of students who have shoplifted once in the past twelve months has increased in all grades except for 7th where it has decreased.
- The number of students who have gotten into trouble with the police one or more times in the last twelve months has increased across the grade levels.
- The number of respondents who feel that the different racial/cultural groups do not get along has decreased from 6.3% in 1995 to 3.2% in 2000
- The number of respondents who are scared of getting attacked or hurt has decreased from 6.3% in 1995 to 2.9% in 2000.
- There was an increase in respondents who feel safe in their neighborhood.
- The greatest percentage of change (14.4%) was seen in the statement, “People have a chance to make a good living.”
- Only 1.9% of survey respondents stated they felt that their home was not safe.
- The number of respondents who felt that their home had bad/old electric wiring increased from 36.1% in 1995 to 52.9% in 2000.
- The number of respondents who stated that a member of their household has tried to kill themselves has decreased from 8.2% in 1995 to 1.7% in 2000
- The number of respondents who stated that a member of their household yells/argues a lot has decreased from 14.7% in 1995 to 10.5% in 2000.
- The number of respondents who felt they did not live in a safe part of town decreased from 20.9% in 1995 to 7.2% in 2000.
Women’s Focus Group
- Domestic violence services – participants feel that domestic violence is a problem in their community, and that there is not enough support services for domestic violence victims.
Youth Focus Group
- Violence/ Crime – the group agreed that their community is a good place for children to grow up; they overwhelmingly agreed that the prevalence of violence in their community is the main problem facing young people in Lycoming County. Violence takes the form of hitting, fighting or threats to do harm.
Senior Citizen’s Focus Group
- Safety Issues – participants listed “safety in their community” as another pressing issue facing senior citizens. Group participants overwhelmingly feel that the streets of Williamsport are not a safe place to be a night. The “lack of police patrol on foot” contributes to the perception that senior citizens are not safe in their communities at night. Seniors fear that they might be the targets of a drug-related crime if they go out at night. Participants also felt that the lack of activities for young people contribute to their fear of being out at night.
What is the LCHIC Rural Health Task Force?
The Rural Health Task Force has been put into place by the Board of Directors of the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition to enhance the health and well-being of Pennsylvania’s rural citizens and Communities. Through the combined efforts of individuals, organizations, professionals, and community leaders, this Task Force will be a collective voice for rural health issues and a conduit for information and resources.
What are the Goals of the new Task Force?
- Promote improved rural health services.
- Provide continuing education opportunities for rural health professionals.
- Improve awareness and public education of rural health issues.
- Foster cooperative partnerships to improve rural health.
- Promote regulatory flexibility and effectiveness for rural health care providers.
- To serve as an advocate for rural development at the local, state, and federal levels.
Tell Me More ….
In January 2003, the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition Board of Directors approved a new Task Force to address health issues for the rural communities of Lycoming County. Derrick Duff, currently serving as Secretary of LCHIC, is an advocate for rural health issues and serves as the LCHIC Representative on the Pennsylvania Rural Health Association. Mr. Duff will serve as the Chair for this new Rural Health Task Force.
Mr. Duff has been active with LCHIC since July 1997. He owns his own healthcare business, Mid-State Occupational Health Services, Inc. and has spent over twenty years in the healthcare industry working in both direct patient care and administration.