Regional Checkup: We’re Not Well

The numbers are in, and they’re not encouraging.

The Partnership for a Healthy Community held court at Sacred Heart Hospital today in Pensacola to share the findings of its 2012 health assessment for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. As in the group’s previous reports, the diagnosis isn’t good.

“It is a little disheartening to think we haven’t moved the dial at all in 18 years,” said the Partnerships’s Nora Bailey.

Beginning in 1995, the group has been releasing a regional health report for the area. Taking various health indicators into account, the previous tests—in 1995, 2000 and 2005—have showed the region to have significant problems.

In addition to health data, the assessments also consider societal data, such as an area’s behavioral tendencies and crime statistics. The numbers for each county are compared to three ‘peer’ counties, as well as the state of Florida.

“For a substantial number of those indicators the results do not compare favorably,” noted David Sjoberg, president of the Partnership board and VP at Baptist Health Care.

Some highlights from this year’s assessment: both counties have a lot of smokers; Escambia has high rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, infectious syphilis and all sexually-transmitted diseases; Santa Rosa has a high death rate for Alzheimer’s Disease and Escambia has a high death rate for that and seven other conditions; both counties have lower cancer rates overall, but also higher rates of breast cancer; the number of people seeking medical care at emergency rooms was high for both.

“It’s easy to get lost in the numbers, but these numbers represent real people, these numbers are our neighbors,” said board member Lee Turner, mission integration director at Sacred Heart. “We have extraordinary resources, we need to look at why these resources have not been able to significantly change what’s happening in the community.”

Partnership members stressed that the information in the 2012 report should be seen as a call to action. They stressed education and better coordination between health and social services-related organizations in the community, as well as educators, business and civic leaders and government.

In its conclusion, the 2012 report notes that the state of Florida ranks low nationally—in the bottom third—in terms of health and well-being. Locally, we compare unfavorably to a bar that is itself unfavorable.

“The fact that a number of important health status indicators in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties do not compare favorably to peers and state results,” Partnership’s conclusion states, “must be cause for public concern.”

To view an executive summary of the 2012 report, visit