Just as Hawaii Health Systems, the island’s chief hospital facilities provider, announced that shortfalls would force it to cut services and lay 0ff 87 employees in East Hawaii, a prestigious nonprofit released survey findings that rank Hawaii County dead last in the state for overall health.
Every five years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health,” releases the results of a nationwide survey of health conditions, broken down by county. The latest survey ranks Hawaii County dead last in the state, behind Maui County, the City and County of Honolulu and Kauai County. The survey covered 32 factors that affected residents, health, and grouped those factors six general areas. Hawaii ranked fourth out of the four counties in five of hose factors: length of life; quality of life; health behaviors such as drinking, smoking, obesity and inactivity; clinical care, and social and economic factors. The only bright spot: Hawaii ranked second in “Physical Environment.”
The foundation estimated that approximately 6,700 every 100,000 Hawaii County residents died prematurely. About 10 percent o county residents were without health insurance. About 25 percent of the population were considered obese, about 45 percent of deaths in traffic accidents were found to be alcohol-related and 22 percent of island residents drank excessively. Approximately 321 out of every 100,000 island residents had a sexually transmitted disease and on average, 22 out of every 1,000 girls between the age of 15 and 19 gave birth. Twenty-six percent of children in the county live in impoverished households, compared to 14 percent statewide. But Hawaii residents were found to be slightly less likely than their counterparts statewide to be victimized by violent crime; on average, 254 such crimes were committed per 100,000 residents here, versus 263 per 100,000 statewide.
According to the Foundation’s statistics, there is one primary care physician for every 1,391 island residents the average statewide is one per every 1,045.