Health Goals for Douglas County


A healthy Douglas County community through equitable access to quality services and resources that foster complete physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being


Create Equitable Opportunities for Health and Wellness

According to Healthy People 2020, our nation’s health planning document, health inequities are related to “historical and contemporary injustices.” Large health disparities persist between people of color and white people in America, and Douglas Count is no exception. The National Institute of Health identified three paths that can lead from racial bias to poorer health among African American, Native American, and Latinx individuals. 
1. The physical and psychological toll of being a target of persistent discrimination.
2. Implicit bias about specific communities of people, which affect physicians’ perceptions and decisions, creating racial disparities in medical treatments.
3. Physicians’ implicit racial bias, which negatively impacts communication and the patient–provider relationship, resulting in racial disparities in the outcomes of medical interactions. 
These ongoing and mundane experiences of discrimination are associated with increased risk of health problems such as heart disease, clinical depression, low birth weight infants, poor sleep, obesity, and even mortality. The absolute racial differences in death rates are substantial, with rates for blacks almost twice as high as those for whites. KS has one of the largest racial disparities in life expectancy. (National Center for Health Statistics [NCHS], 2012). 

Basic Healthcare Coverage for Preventative Healthcare

Access to physical, mental, and oral health care services are important elements of personal wellness and community health, and includes factors of availability, affordability and accessibility of services.  Healthcare coverage for children means they are more likely to receive preventive health care.
Kansas is among the worst-performing states for health insurance coverage for low-income people, and the number of people without health insurance has increased in Douglas County in the past decade. Many other states have improved coverage of this population using the Medicaid program, but Kansas ranks 50th in the share of low-income adults on Medicaid.  Currently 15% of Douglas County adults ages 18-64 are uninsured, and 5% of Douglas County children are uninsured, but 48.5% of those uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, signaling a need for increased outreach and benefits enrollment assistance for coverage. 
The health of America’s youth and adults is a serious concern. In looking at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over one-third of youth in grades 9 to 12 and one-third of adults can be considered healthy, with the percentage stagnating for youth and worsening for adults when compared to a decade ago. Drug overdoses have surpassed motor vehicle crashes and falls as the leading cause of unintentional injury death, and in Douglas County, suicide is one of the leading causes of death for young adults. People with lower incomes suffer the worst health disparities. They are less likely to be up-to-date on immunizations, and are more likely to binge drink, smoke, have unprotected sex, be overweight, and to have been diagnosed with depression. 


Maternal health and infant well-being start children off in the right direction. Low birthweight can lead to developmental problems later in life. The number of babies born at a low birthweight increased over the last 10 years, to an average of 1 in 12 babies, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. African American, Native American, and Latinx communities see drastic disparities in maternal health and infant well-being, with 13% of African American infants born at 5 pounds, 8 ounces or less, compared to 6.5% of white infants in Douglas County.
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