University of Nebraska Medical Center Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the College of Public Health, will visit six health departments from York to Gering from Jan. 17-19.
During the "listening tour," Dr. Khan will meet with leaders in health departments in York, Grand Island, Hastings, Holdrege, McCook and North Platte. The goal is to learn about opportunities and concerns facing communities, as well as share innovative strategies and best practices to improve the health of Nebraskans.
The tour will culminate on Jan. 19 when Dr. Khan will be a guest speaker at the 2017 Panhandle Health Summit in Gering from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. He will talk about Nebraska’s health status and some of the things that can be done to improve it.
Accompanying Dr. Khan will be Brandon Grimm, Ph.D., director of the college’s Office of Public Health Practice and Deborah Levy, Ph.D., professor and chair, UNMC Department of Epidemiology.
"The health departments are on the front lines of improving the health of Nebraskans. Everyone we connect with is eager to make a difference in their communities," Dr. Khan said. "We are pleased to work with our partners at health departments and other organizations to address Nebraska’s major health issues such as smoking, obesity, excessive drinking, immunization rates, colorectal cancer, and work-related deaths."
One of the college’s goals is to help Nebraska become the healthiest and most equitable state in the country by 2020. In the United Health Foundation’s 2016 rankings, Nebraska slipped in the national health rankings from 10th to 12th. The foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care.
The foundation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or illness.
"While it’s encouraging to see an improvement in health equity in Nebraska from 43rd to 32nd this year, being ranked the 12th healthiest state in the nation does not reflect the talent and aspiration of our citizens, health officials, and community leaders," Dr. Khan said. "Collaboratively we can work toward our overarching number one goal by surpassing the rankings of our neighboring states - Minnesota, Utah, Colorado, and North Dakota - in 2017."
Rankings highlights (bolded stats are areas that have declined):
• In the past year, premature death increased 7 percent from 6,125 to 6,529 years lost per 100,000 population.
• In the past year, immunizations among children aged 19 to 35 months decreased 8 percent from 80.2 percent to 73.8 percent.
• In the past year, children in poverty decreased 18 percent from 18.3 percent to 15.0 percent of children.
• In the past four years, the percentage of the population without health insurance decreased 30 percent from 12.8 percent to 9.0 percent.
• In the past five years, preventable hospitalizations decreased 29 percent from 65.7 to 46.9 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.
• Low rate of drug deaths
• Low prevalence of low birthweight
• Low prevalence of frequent mental
• High prevalence of excessive drinking
• High prevalence of obesity
• High incidence of pertussis
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