Forty-one other states are healthier than South Carolina, according to the 2015 America’s Health Rankings, released by the United Health Foundation.
South Carolina ranked 42nd in health outcomes, the same ranking the state earned last year. The rankings are based on 2012-2014 data.
The Palmetto state did improve in 23 of the 34 measures used to calculate rankings, including childhood immunizations, infant mortality and preventable hospitalizations; however, the improvement was not enough to move the state up in the national rankings.
Dr. Bruce Snyder, vascular surgeon and chair of the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina, is not surprised. “There is no shortage of organizations and people taking on the task of improving health and healthcare in South Carolina, which is why there was significant progress; but we are not as coordinated as we could be, yet, so other states are improving faster.”
To address this concern, leaders of 54 public and private organizations have joined in a collective effort to advance the health of South Carolina residents while controlling the future cost of care. The collaborative, called the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina, challenges its members to coordinate action on any efforts to reduce disparities and improve physical and behavioral health of children and adults.
The South Carolina Hospital Association is one of the founding members of the Alliance.
Dr. Shawn Stinson, chief medical officer at BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina, warned that we have to close the gaps in health among our people faster to be ranked 40th or better. “In 2014, we had our lowest infant mortality rate in history, but our state would have had 103 fewer baby deaths if there was no difference in the infant mortality of White and African American babies."
It is critical that we close the gaps in health outcomes. “We need to identify who is not thriving – our elderly, our working poor, our racial minorities, our rural residents, our people who struggle with a behavioral health condition but are too afraid to be stigmatized if they seek help, said Lathran Woodward, CEO of the Primary Health Care Association. “We can then work with them as peers in finding solutions that are respectful of their culture, their experience, and their values.”
Despite each Alliance member’s perspective, they share the understanding that a healthier population is good for everyone and that everyone has an important role to play in improving the health of all citizens. “All of us make choices every day that can put us, our families, our friends, and our employees on a path to better or poorer health,” according to Lisa Wear-Ellington, CEO of the SC Business Coalition on Health.
“Good health means we get to spend more time doing what we love with the people we love, and less dealing with our illnesses,” said Teresa Arnold, state director of AARP and vice chair of the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina. “Every person in South Carolina deserves a healthier life. Together, we can make it happen.”