Report: 2 Pennsylvania counties rank as Appalachian ‘Bright Spots’ |
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Stephen Huba

A new report by the Appalachian Regional Commission names two Pennsylvania counties as “Bright Spots” in the 13-state region for their positive, trend-defying health indicators.

Beaver County in southwestern Pennsylvania and Potter County in north central Pennsylvania were both identified as “Bright Spots” among 420 Appalachian counties for having better-than-expected health outcomes.

The report, “ Identifying Bright Spots in Appalachian Health: Statistical Analysis ,” ranked the counties based on their performance on 19 health outcome measures, including infant mortality rate, cancer mortality rate, obesity, prevalence of diabetes and prevalence of depression among Medicare beneficiaries.

A county whose average of all 19 measures scored in the top decile was classified as a “Bright Spot.”

Of the 42 top-performing counties, 10 were chosen for in-depth case studies in the report “ Exploring Bright Spots in Appalachian Health .” Potter County was one of the 10 selected.

While each county has developed its own approaches for addressing local health challenges, researchers identified several common themes:

  • Community leaders engaged in health initiatives;
  • A tradition of resource sharing;
  • Local health care providers committed to public health;
  • Active faith communities

  • Grassroots initiatives to combat substance abuse.

“While Appalachia lags behind the rest of the nation on many key measures of health, this research offers evidence that local communities, even with modest resources, can influence in a positive way the health and well-being of their citizens,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “All the counties profiled in this research share a sense of strength and resilience.”

Along with the “Identifying” and “Exploring” reports, the Appalachian Regional Commission announced the launching of the website to facilitate research of county-level health data for the entire Appalachian region.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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