Healthiest Counties Ranked: Ohio and Belmont Have Strengths & Weaknesses


The county-by-county health rankings are out, and you might be surprised at how your home county rates, and why.

Ohio County is number 10 out of West Virginia’s 55 counties.

It has plenty of hospitals, doctors and health programs.

It also has a vibrant rails-to-trails program, quiet a few fitness facilities and a legendary park system.

On the other hand, it has a growing rate of sexually transmitted disease.

“The smaller ones that people sometimes won’t think much about–whether it’s syphilis or gonorrhea–can sometimes lead to other problems like Hepatitis, HIV and eventually AIDS.” said Howard Gamble, Ohio County health administrator.

Belmont County is ranked number 51 among Ohio’s 88 counties.

Their STD numbers are down, their length of life is up.

But their mental and dental health is not so good.

“We are a health professional shortage area, so we do have fewer physicians and mental health providers and dentists in our county,” said Linda Mehl, director of nursing for the Belmont County Health Department.

And some other problems exist in Belmont County.

“The adult smoking rate is about 21 percent for our county, which is higher than the state average,” explained Mehl. “Also obesity and physical activity are also problems in our county.”

But they also look at things like the high school graduation rate and the number of single parent families.

And they look at the number of “bad mental health days” individuals have, and whether they get help.

And they look at drunk driving crashes, and all the circumstances surrounding them.

“In a large city, you may have more transit or subways or a cab system to get around if you are impaired,” said Gamble. “But in rural West Virginia, you’re probably going to take your personal vehicle and you may be drunk and the roads aren’t straight.”

Both counties have areas to strive for improvement.

But both are the top-ranked counties in their own area, the Upper Ohio Valley,.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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