ALBEMARLE — At Monday night’s Albemarle City Council meeting, Debbie Bennett, public health educator with the Stanly County Health Department, presented the results of the 2021 County Health Assessment Survey to councilmembers.
One key goal of the assessment is to highlight similarities and disparities between how the general public perceives health risks and how those health risks exist on a statistical basis.
According to the latest data provided by the state (2015-2019), the two major causes of death in Stanly County are heart disease and cancer, both of which are now trending downward. Heart disease is the highest cause of death for those 85 years old and older while cancer is the highest cause of death for those between the ages of 40 and 84.
The third and fourth leading causes of death — Alzheimer’s disease and All Other Unintentional Injuries — are both trending upward in the county.
In the survey results with 1,015 different responses, heart disease was the only one out of the four leading causes of death that was listed as a top-ten major problem. While it was listed as #7, cancer was listed at #11 with Alzheimer’s disease tied for #16 and All Other Unintentional Injuries at #20.
“Survey respondents listed Substance Use Disorder/Overdose as its #1 major problem health issue. Obesity/Overweight was listed as #2,” the report states. “Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment was listed #1 and Access to Adult Day Care was listed as the #2 major problem. Unemployment/Underemployment was the #1 major problem community issue. Poverty was the #2 major problem community issue.”
The issues represented in the survey — held between Jan. 14, 2021, and Feb. 14, 2021 — were decided by Partners in Health, a Stanly County Health Task Force made up of private citizens as well as representatives from local agencies and community groups; the issues in this year’s edition were selected after reviewing the results from the 2020 Community Health Assessment.
Stanly County Partners in Health were joined by five other focus groups: United Way of Stanly County Leadership Board, Badin City Council, Stanly County Minority Health Council, Stanly County Adult Day Healthcare Committee, and Grace Place.
In her closing statements, Bennett provided her assessment that community organizations and leaders have made an effective jump in their battle against the opioid epidemic: “I’m telling you right now this county is really making some headway on substance misuse. There are less people now being sent to the emergency department…That’s what I love about this county and this city. We see situations that need to be addressed — we address them and we go after them.”
The Albemarle City Council will hold its next regularly-scheduled meeting at the Albemarle City Hall Council Chambers (144 North 2nd Street) on April 18 at 6:30 p.m.