Bexar County ranks 115 out of 242 counties in overall health

Some categories are improving, others need more attention

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The Metropolitan Health District said there are things to be proud about, but there's still a long way to go after Bexar County ranked 115 out of 242 Texas counties in health standings.

Work to battle two big health issues in Bexar County is starting to pay off. Adult obesity dropped to 27 percent, which is slightly below the state average of 28 percent. 

Smoking, a target problem, is now even with the statewide rate.

"We still have a lot of work to do, but I'm proud of that. I'm proud that we're the first city in Texas to pass Tobacco 21," said Junda Woo, medical director of Metro Health Medical.

Woo was also happy to see Bexar County has almost twice the number of mental health providers per person when compared with the state average.

"We've had a lot of different organizations here working together on mental health for a long time," Woo said.

Still, the study showed Bexar County is far higher when it comes to the number of "poor mental health days."

Woo says that's where society, Bexar County included, has work to do.

"Recognizing that you need help, there's overcoming stigma to get help. There's accessing the help if we're talking about health insurance. You should be able to get health coverage for mental health care the same way you do for physical health care," she said.

The biggest problem reflected in the numbers is Bexar County's rate of sexually transmitted infections.
The number of newly diagnosed Chlamydia cases per 100,000 population was 708.5 versus the state average of 523.6. Woo argued that's also because of better and more thorough testing.

"Our numbers are higher because we have a higher rate, but the bump around 2014 is because we changed how we test," she said.

The study also mentioned violent crimes per 100,000 people. Bexar County had 476 compared with the state's average of 408. 

A big Metro Health goal is to show the connection between crime and health.  

"Having experiences like a parent who's incarcerated or seeing partner violence, that affects your health for the rest of your life. That can affect your life expectancy by as much as 20 years unless we build a community that recognizes trauma and is resilient," Woo said.

Some of those low points balanced by more good news. Bexar County rose above the state level in access to exercise opportunities and food environment index.

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