Clinton County keeping an eye on at-risk groups to maintain countywide health

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By Brittany Flowers
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

Mid-Michigan District Health Department

Mid-Michigan District Health Department

Infants, children and seniors are more susceptible than most people to illness and injury. And the large population of toddlers, tykes and the elderly in Clinton County means a proactive approach is key to maintaining community wide health.

Helping keep an eye on county health is the role of the the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, which provides preventative health services for Clinton County individuals, families, and the workplace community, according to the county’s website.

The general responsibility of the department is to provide direct health care for particularly high-risk or vulnerable population groups, of which Clinton County has its share.

“Even though they are a healthy county they do have at-risk populations who aren’t healthy or who may be at risk,” Mid-Michigan District Health Department Public Officer Leslie Kinnee said.

Michigan State University Sociology Professor Harry Perlstadt said there may be a variety of variables that would put a population at risk for health issues including single-parent families, seniors, persons with disabilities, and people with low incomes.

“Having a low income and low education are two of the major sociodemographic variables and when they’re together they do tend to put people at risk for getting health secure,” Perlstadt said.

The poverty level in Clinton County is only 10 percent, compared with 16.8 percent in Michigan, and 15.4 percent in the country, according to the United States Census Bureau, and being that 93.4 percent of people 25 and older in Clinton County have an education level of high school or beyond, it is unlikely that these two factors are contributing to the population’s health care vulnerability.

But according to the census bureau, women, infants, and children make up 73.6 percent of Clinton County’s population, so this may be a large reason why the health department services the county and why the county may be considered at-risk.

“We provide WIC services, which is women, infants, children program. The at-risk population could be referring to our WIC program,” Kinnee said. “There are families who meet specific income guidelines and we provide nutrition education, food benefits for qualified families, breastfeeding support. That’s definitely an at-risk population.”

But according to the census bureau, women, infants, and children make up 73.6 percent of Clinton County’s population, so this may be a large reason why the health department services the county and why the county may be considered at-risk.

Perlstadt also said seniors can be an at-risk population group.

“To some extent seniors, even though they have medicare are considered vulnerable,” Perlstadt said.

The population of people in Clinton County 65 years of age or older is 15.3 percent, according to the census bureau, meaning that women, infants, children, and seniors make up 88.9 percent of the population of Clinton County and may be the underlying reason why they are served by the health department.

According to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps , Clinton County was ranked third in overall ratings for health in Michigan.

Clinton County health ranking

Clinton County health ranking

“I would like to think that we certainly play a role in that,” Kinnee said. “Clinton County is certainly our healthiest county and some of those factors are geography — the geographic location is in close proximity to Lansing.”

Kinnee said the county tends to have a higher income and access to top-notch medical care which in addition to other factors that cannot be precisely pinpointed contributes to the overall health of the county.

Librarian at Briggs Public Library in St. Johns Sara Morrison said she is aware of the WIC program and some of the services that the health department provides.

“I think it’s a great service for our community. It’s important that people are able to go and get the care they need when they otherwise might not be able to afford it. I think it’s really benefited the overall health of this county,” Morrison said.

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