The percentage of children living in poverty in Southwest Colorado is considerably higher than the state average, but the region has decreased its number of teen births and births to unwed mothers, according to a recently released health care report.
Also, while the number of uninsured residents in Southwest Colorado has decreased by an average of 8 percent, the numbers exceed the state average of 9 percent.
A snapshotThe 2016 Southwest Colorado Index Healthcare report gives a snapshot of health care services in the region, along with measurements of specific indicators, such as the percentage of people insured, mental health visits and child poverty statistics. Counties included in the report are Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan.
Statewide, 17 percent of children were living in poverty in 2013. La Plata County was slightly better at 15 percent, and Dolores County came close to the state mark with 18 percent, the report showed. Montezuma County had nearly twice that percentage, at 30 percent. San Juan County was at 27 percent, and Archuleta followed closely at 26 percent.
Teen birthsTeen births were negligible in the region, with only eight counted in 2014 – all in Montezuma County. Asterisks for Archuleta and La Plata counties indicated “one or two events” but specific numbers were not provided. A news release from the Economic Development of Southwest Colorado, Region 9, that accompanied the report said, “There is a decrease in numbers of births to both unwed mothers and teens.”
In addition, 30 percent of pregnant women in the region are receiving prenatal care starting the first trimester, compared to 21 percent statewide.
UninsuredIn examining the number of uninsured residents in Southwest Colorado, the report showed La Plata County coming closest to the state average of 9 percent. In 2013, 14 percent of state residents were uninsured.
Those most at risk for being uninsured are residents living in poverty, which is 38 percent of all uninsured, up from 36 percent in 2013. Across Colorado, Hispanics continue to be the most disproportionately uninsured group – representing 37 percent of all uninsured and 20 percent of the population.
La Plata County showed 11 percent uninsured in 2015, down from 19 percent in 2013. Archuleta dropped from 19 percent uninsured in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015; Dolores dropped from 21 percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2015, and Montezuma dropped from 23 percent in 2013 to 16 percent in 2015.
Only San Juan County saw an increase in the uninsured, going from 26 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2015, the report showed.
A positive shiftReport author Donna Graves said the overall findings represent a positive shift toward integrated health care and a more well-rounded approach to care. Providers are treating not only the body and mind, but also the culture of their patients, she said.
“It’s really a positive paradigm shift in the way that we look at health care,” Graves said. “It’s a more holistic approach than we’ve seen in the past.”
Areas of study include percentage of uninsured residents, hospital emergency departments, pharmacies, safety net clinics, oral health care, behavioral health care, child health, people with disabilities, senior health, hospice care and leading causes of death.
Southwest Health System marketing director Haley Leonard said Region 9 did an excellent job in compiling the report.
“It’s really important to have accurate information that shows the whole picture so people can see what’s really going on in the county,” she said.
Uninsured or less-insured residents may visit safety-net clinics, which include community health centers, stand-alone clinics, rural health clinics and school-based health centers. Designed to provide accessible health care to those who are uninsured or covered by public health plans such as Medicare and Medicaid, safety-net clinics have increased in number from six in 2007 to 15 in 2016 in the five counties. Four are in La Plata County, nine in Montezuma County, one each in Archuleta and Dolores counties and none in San Juan County.
Some findingsHere are more statistics from the report:
Pharmacies: No change in La Plata County, which had nine in 2007 and 2015; Montezuma County went from five in 2007 to six in 2015; Archuleta County went from two in 2007 to four in 2015. Neither Dolores County now San Juan County had a pharmacy in the years cited.Oral Healthcare: Few options exists for the region’s low-income residents, although it has improved from 1997 when only one dentist in the entire five-county Region 9 accepted Medicaid. Seven dentists in La Plata County accept Medicaid, up from two in 2007; Montezuma County went from one in 2007 to three in 2015; Archuleta County dropped from two in 2007 to one in 2015; Dolores County dropped from one in 2007 to none in 2015, and San Juan County has none.Behavioral healthcare: Axis Health System provides care at nine locations in Southwest Colorado, including those that provide integrated care, such as community and school health care centers. It reported 4,018 mental health clients were served in 2015, up slightly from the 3,913 served in 2012. However, the number is down dramatically from the 5,581 served in 2006, when numbers from La Plata/San Juan counties’ residents skyrocketed to 3,505. The numbers of residents from each county served in 2015 are: Archuleta, 419, compared with 397 in 2012; La Plata/San Juan, 2,196, up from 1,995 in 2012; Montezuma/Dolores, 1,162, down from 1,251 in 2012.Suicides: Twenty-one suicide deaths were reported in the five-county region in 2014 – nine each in La Plata and Montezuma counties, and three in Archuleta County. From 2008 to 2014, the region had 149 suicide deaths – 20 in Archuleta County, 71 in La Plata County and 58 in Montezuma County. Statewide there were 6,664 suicide deaths during those years. Suicide death statistics for Dolores and San Juan counties were not available.Causes of death: Heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease are the leading causes of death in Southwest Colorado, followed by unintentional injuries, suicide and motor vehicle crashes.The report was sponsored by the Southwest Colorado Area Health Education Center, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Ballantine Family Fund. The report can be found at www.swcommunityfoundation.org, under the Building Community tab.