Rural counties in East struggle in latest health report

WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — North Carolina’s latest county health report is out, and a number of rural counties including Martin, Bertie and Lenoir all ranked in the lower third.

Factors include quality of life, health behaviors like smoking and STIs, and clinical care.

Martin County resident Ronda Seaton came to Agape Metropolitan Facility in Williamston seeking help she didn’t know if she could get.

“I’ve got two problems with my teeth,” said Seaton. “One on the bottom left one, (one) on the upper right, and they need to be pulled.”

Martin County scored in the lower third in the latest county health report, with an overall ranking of 85 out of 100 counties.

That means it is in the low percentile for health factors like smoking, addiction or mental health.

It also weighs outcomes like low birth weight or average life expectancy.

“The health department is doing a great job at serving some but then there were a handful or more that have not had their needs met,” said Carol Taylor, Agape Metropolitan dental and medical manager. “…A lot of people are overworked. Some people don’t have the correct staffing; therefore people are having to go other avenues to find a way to get the kind of treatment that they are seeking.”

Taylor said it hasn’t been easy recruiting new medical professionals to serve the area. She said a dentist turned down the office because there wasn’t anything in the area to do.

“We can’t compete with Raleigh because Raleigh does have that after-hour life,” said Taylor.

Seaton said change will come once the community comes together to offer more public services.

“If they brought things like that to the weekend, to churches and stuff like Vidant Beaufort (Hospital) does, that will get a lot more into this community,” said Seaton. “A lot more money — people, money everything…The type of people that you want in this community. The type of people you need.”

If you want to see how your county fares you can see the county by county breakdown here.

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