Special Report: Is Elmira the Sixth Worst City to get Sick in?

Local News

A 24/7 Wall St. article lists Elmira as the sixth worse a place to get sick in the entire country. That data is based off a health outcome study, but are these statistics deceiving?

“The lead is Elmira is the worst place to get sick and that’s really not the story at all,” Rosemary Anthony, Director of Population Health for Arnot Health, said. “It’s very disheartening and discouraging when reports like this come out because the real story is in the fine print.”

The article cites a study called “Quality Reporting That Addresses Disparities in Health Care”, published by the American Medical Association in 2014. The fine print Anthony is referring to is a call out in the article from a Harvard University physician and researcher. It states:

“Hospital quality scores tend to penalize safety net facilities, which primarily provide care for disadvantaged and poor populations. Low income populations tend to require greater medical attention which could skew patient outcome data even for hospitals providing high-quality care.”

You guessed it, the Arnot Ogden Medical Center is a safety-net facility and Elmira has a high poverty rate, which means the results of the study could be skewed. In fact, Elmira’s poverty rate of 18.7 percent is much higher than the national rate of 15.5 percent and poverty has a lot to do with your health.

“People who have low income or have limited insurance or no insurance tend to wait until they’re really sick to seek care,” Anthony said.

According to the study, 91 out of every 1000 hospitalizations in Elmira were preventable.

“If people aren’t able to access primary or preventative care or they’re not engaged in the healthcare system or they’re not even aware of why that might be important, they’re going to be using the emergency rooms for non-emergent conditions,” Anthony said.

Arnot Health’s Population Health department is working to change all of this and improve our health outcomes.

“Hospitals historically have not been used to looking outside their walls to figure out ‘what’s the big picture here?’ And we’re dedicated to doing that,” Anthony said.

The department at the AOMC is making great strides.

“Just this year, The US Wisconsin County Rankings ranked us 50th in terms of poor health outcomes, however, that was nine jumps better and it’s the highest that we’ve ever been, highest in terms of best that we’ve ever been, and that’s a reflection of really hard work over the past 7 years in order to impact that,” Anthony said.

To view the article, click here.

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