County Health Planner Marcia Knol said priorities identified in the community needs survey were access to affordable health care, obesity, substance abuse and behavioral health, and chronic disease management.
“The most pressing issue that came up when we talked to people was access to affordable health care,” Knol said, adding that the economy has made this issue even worse with people lacking employment or being underinsured.
Based on the study, more than one in 10 adults in Ottawa County have no health care coverage — and whether or not one has coverage is directly related to education and income.
The report indicates younger residents, ages 18-34, are more likely to have no coverage than older residents; and Hispanics report no coverage more than other racial/ethnic groups.
Among young adults, alcohol is reported to be the most abused substance, and 20 percent of adults reported binge drinking in Ottawa County. About 22 percent of those were reportedly in Northwest Ottawa County.
“We are higher than the state and nation in adult binge drinking,” Knol said, adding that the county is also high with heavy drinking at 7 percent.
Knol reported that there is also inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, with 83 percent of adults and 66 percent of youth not eating adequate amounts.
“We don’t do that here, and we are so agricultural,” Knol said. “This is not (exclusively) a low-income thing.”
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