As our city grows, we now must focus on our health

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Since 2016, Mayor Dave Kitchell has shared updates from the city in a monthly column on CassCountyOnline.com.

Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell
Logansport Mayor
Dave Kitchell

Logansport continues to be in growth mode and our civic vital signs lead to a positive prognosis for many of the things we can see.

Our unemployment rate of 3.1 percent is below the state and national averages, as well as below the averages in Tippecanoe, Howard, Miami and Marion counties. Construction in the city is up from $8 million last year through Sept. 30 to more than $22 million this year. Three new businesses opened downtown in the last month. The last vacant building on Mall Road has been filled with a new business. Another new restaurant has opened and four companies – Logan Stampings, Myers Spring, BHJ and Foppers – are doubling in size.  We inch closer to an announcement on the Logansport Mall redevelopment.

As for the things we can’t necessarily see, a community health assessment performed through Logansport Memorial Hospital has turned my attention to the health of our community and a concern for the prognosis of our public health. While Cass County’s vital signs in some cases are better than the state’s but below the nation’s, the needs assessment pointed to several areas, many of which have been worsening since 2013.

To summarize areas that must be addressed:

*Access. The number of primary care physicians per capita and emergency room visits in the past year are concerns.

*Cancer. Colorectal and lung cancer incidence is higher than the state and national averages.

*Diabetes. High blood sugar, borderline pre-diabetes and death rates are higher than the state rate.

*Heart disease and stroke. Our age-adjusted death rate for stroke is higher than the state and national rates. Residents with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol also are above the rates.

*Infant health. Our infant death rate is above the state and national averages and pregnancy to teens 15 to 19 is higher than the state average.

*Injury and violence. Our violent crime rate is low, but we rank poorly in death rates for fall victims, motor vehicle crash injuries and unintentional injuries.

*Kidney disease. Locally, the average incidence is twice the normal average.

*Mental health. Suicide remains a problem, as is the percentage of residents taking and receiving prescriptions for mental health treatment. Depression and Alzheimer’s also have higher rates locally. Combined, this category ranked as the No. 1 concern for stakeholders in the community.

*Potentially disabling conditions. Osteoporosis is higher than normal.

*Respiratory diseases. Our chronic lower respiratory disease rate is higher than average for the state and nation. We have a higher percentage of adults with asthma and COPD.

*Tobacco use. We have a higher percentage of residents who smoke or live in a home where someone does.

Additionally, the assessment indicates our community has a higher percentage of linguistically isolated people than the state or nation and our percentage of residents with no high school diploma (age 25 or older) also is higher than the state and national figures.

The percentage of residents who have fair or poor overall health is 26.5 percent, higher than the state and the nation.

Other areas are positives, including breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases where we rank well.

But there is work to be done in sorting through the reasons why our community health isn’t better. I applaud Logansport Memorial Hospital which has provided us with some state-of-the-art facilities. Sometimes I’ve been told the best health insurance or facilities can breed a false sense of security when it comes to our health. Let’s hope that isn’t the case here.

This assessment hopefully will lead to better outcomes, healthier lives and a better prognosis for all of us.

It is a privilege to serve as your mayor. If you have a complaint, a question or a concern, please call us at 753-2551 or e-mail me at dkitchell@cityoflogansport.org.