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Roanoke remains one of the most unhealthy places in the state

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) -The Roanoke Valley ranks 112 out of 133 areas in the Commonwealth when it comes to health according to a recently released three-year study by Carilion Clinic.

Thursday, the findings of the 2015 Roanoke Valley Community Health Needs Assessment were presented to city leaders.

To read the full report click here.

While improvement has been made between the 2012 and 2015 study, the Roanoke Valley continues to be one of the unhealthiest in the state, especially for impoverished people.

Aaron Boush with Carilion Clinic explained to city council the findings of the 2015 community health assessment and points out that cost remains a great barrier.

"We have a dedication to the under-served, that is our target population. We are really trying to determine what the health barriers are with that population," Boush said.

While high cost and little to no insurance is one of the main issues, even for middle class families, it's also the lack of knowledge that resources like Carilion Clinic and various non-profits are available to those who struggle.

Pat Young with healthy Roanoke Valley says it's not a lack of services, but rather an issue of access to them.

"Certainly mental health and oral health are probably two of our greatest needs," Young said.

The survey sampling came from the general public, but Young says they also highly sampled the underprivileged.

Two of the most medically under-served areas they noted are SE and NW Roanoke.

A quarter of those surveyed said mental health is the main issue. The Roanoke Valley continues to have higher than state average suicide rates.

Many surveyed said they needed services but couldn't afford them.

Despite programs like mini-mom's that offers free dental care to the underprivileged, it's not enough. Thirty six percent surveyed say they didn't use dental services. That includes children.

"The other side of it is the whole wellness side of health. We know that there is an obesity epidemic. We know that people are inactive," Young said.

Young says access to healthy food is still big challenge which leads to overall poor health.

These studies now explain  that because of the poor health of the population in the Roanoke Valley, that people there are more likely to live five to ten years less than those living in other parts of the state.


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