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Northeast Michigan healthier

2020 stats show improvements over 2019

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Colt Gray, 14, of Alpena looks for a way to the basketball hoop on Monday at Bay View Park while being guarded by Hutch Gibbons, 14, also of Alpena. Zach Kunath, 15, of Alpena, and Devin LaMay, 15, of Alpena, are pictured closest to the basketball hoop. The latest statistics from County Health Rankings show Northeast Michiganders are healthier this year than last.

ALPENA — Health outcomes for Northeast Michigan residents improved this year over last, a recent study from County Health Rankings shows.

Alpena County ranks 27th out of 83 counties in the state, an improvement over its ranking of 41st in 2019, according to data on things like life expectancy, obesity, smoking rates, poverty and more compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Presque Isle County ranks 55th this year, compared to 62nd last year. Alcona County ranks 68th, compared to 76th last year. Montmorency County ranks 70th this year, compared to 71st last year.

Health outcomes are determined by measuring both the quality of and length of life by county in Michigan. All four Northeast Michigan counties saw improvements in quality of life rankings, which measure overall physical and mental health, and most of those counties saw life expectancy rankings stay the same or improve this year over 2019.

The average life expectancy increased in Alpena County to 78 from 77.9 and in Alcona County to 76.8 from 75.8. Life expectancy in Presque Isle County remained the same at 77.4. Montmorency County residents are expected to live an average of 75.6 years, compared to an average of 75.9 years in 2019.

Calls to District Health Department No. 4 for comment were not immediately returned.

Denise Bryan, health officer for District Health Departments No. 2 and No. 4, previously told The News that changing a county’s ranking can be difficult, because of systematic issues and the difficulty obtaining resources to address those issues.

Health Department officials use the data to demonstrate need when writing grants.

Childhood poverty in Northeast Michigan continues to exceed the state average of 19% this year, with 23% Alpena County and Presque Isle County children and 32% of Alcona County and Montmorency County children living in poverty.

Northeast Michigan has a greater percentage of home ownership than the state average of 71%, with 78% of Alpena County residents, 88% of Alcona County residents, 86% of Montmorency County residents, and 89% of Presque Isle residents owning their own home.

Access to a primary care physician also improved in Alpena and Alcona counties,while access to primary care physicians was more difficult in Montmorency and Presque Isle counties. There are about 6,400 Presque Isle County residents per physician countywide.

Additionally, the percentage of Northeast Michigan residents who are uninsured either meets or exceeds the state average.

A greater percentage of Northeast Michigan residents are obese than the state average. While approximately 32% of Michigan residents are obese, 34% of Alpena residents, 35% of Alcona residents, 36% of Montmorency County residents, and 33% of Presque Isle County residents are obese, according to the data.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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