The Public Health Division of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS) is pleased to issue the State of the County’s Health Report (SOTCH) for 2017. During years when a more comprehensive Guilford County Community Health Assessment (CHA) is not conducted, the GCDHHS publishes the SOTCH Report to provide information to community leaders, organizations and county residents on the county’s health status as well as information on how Guilford County is responding to the priority health issues identified during the 2015-2016 CHA which includes: Healthy Eating and Active Living, Maternal and Child Health, Behavioral Health (mental health and substance abuse) and Social Determinants of Health.

“We are pleased to see some of our important health indicators improve. Our Department and staff continue to provide and support innovative programs and partner with the community to address important health concerns that affect our residents,” stated Merle Green, Health Director.

The State of Guilford County’s Health is improving by some measures. Areas of improvement include:

  • Heart disease, the second leading cause of death and the leading driver of hospital costs, declined by 27% in the last two decades and 12% in the last ten years;
  • Teen pregnancy rates continue a steady downward trend, declining by 55% in the last decade, in keeping with state and national trends;
  • More women are entering prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy, improving the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and birth.
  • 94% of county residents live near opportunities for physical activity, which include parks and recreation facilities. This places Guilford County above the 90th percentile among US counties for opportunities for physical activity.

While the health of Guilford County residents is improving in some areas, other measures show a need for improvement or cause for concern;

  • Guilford County has 26 food desert census tracts—up from 24 tracts in 2010. By one measure—the Food Environment Index—which incorporates food access along with food insecurity, Guilford County compares poorly with other similar counties across the state, the state overall and national benchmarks;
  • Significant racial and ethnic inequities persist across many health outcomes, from leading causes of death to birth outcomes and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • One of the most important health issues facing Guilford County residents is the opioid epidemic. The last several years has seen a marked increase in hospital Emergency Department visits due to opioid-related overdoses, including heroin as well as non-prescription synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Similar increases have occurred in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) overdose calls, as well as increases in opioid-related deaths.

A number of efforts and strategies are currently underway to address these concerns and priority health issues identified during the CHA:

  • The Diabetes Prevention Program is a uniquely designed program by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent or delay Type 2 Diabetes for those at risk. Through group classes at convenient locations led by a lay health facilitator, participants receive support to make modest lifestyle changes. To date, two class series have been completed at Mount Zion Baptist Church (in Greensboro) and two are currently underway, one in the Cottage Grove community and one at Guilford Child Development. For more information, contact Nedra Cox at ncox@guilfordcountync.gov.
  • The JustTEENS Clinic Program was initiated in 2015 at the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS), Public Health Division Greensboro clinic with financial assistance from the Cone Health Foundation to encourage the use of LARCs (Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives), a very effective method of preventing unintended pregnancy. The program has been so successful that with the help of the Foundation for a Healthy High Point, a High Point JustTEENS clinic was established in 2017. The JustTEENS clinics are successfully working toward helping our county’s young adults by helping them stay healthy and reducing adolescent pregnancy rates. For more information about JustTEENS, contact Judy Southern at jsouthe1@guilfordcountync.gov.
  • Special funding provided by the NC State General Assembly is supporting a Guilford County-UNC-Greensboro collaboration to address the opioid epidemic called GCSTOP, the Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem. GCSTOP will engage residents who overdose on and who are at high risk of overdose in harm reduction practices, distribute and train on the use of naloxone (a life-saving narcotic antagonist), conduct community health education, coordinate community resources with other partners and build relationships focused on ending opioid overdose. GCSTOP will include the development and implementation of a Rapid Response Team Intervention designed to reduce the negative consequences of use and eventually convince users to enter treatment. For more information about these efforts, contact Chase Holleman at cnhollem@uncg.edu.

The full State of Guilford County’s Health report can be found via http://www.myguilford.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2017SOTCHFULLMERGE.pdf . For more information on these reports or other health statistics, contact Guilford County Department of Public Health at 336-641-7777 or go to http://www.myguilford.com/humanservices/health/health-statistics/.