Affordable Health Care Not Found Here?
LABELLE, FL. -- A new web site that compiles Florida county health statistics indicates that residents of Hendry and Glades county are among the most unhealthy people in Florida in most categories measured. Especially prevalent in a long list of health related problem areas where residents have much higher problems than statewide are diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, heart failure, cervical and prostate cancers, tuberculosis, clamydia, high teen birth rates, unintentional accident death, vehicle death, homicide, domestic violence, smoking and obesity. Over one-third of area individuals smoke, and a third are obese with a body mass index of more than 30. Eating healthy also appears as an indicator of problem health with more than 80% eating less than five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Although health statistics are not compiled each year by all counties, this site does give the latest numbers and is a good indication of the state of health in Hendry and Glades county. Some of the information from the Glades county page seems to indicate better numbers than Hendry county, but we suspect it is only because the small reportable numbers of health statistics in rural Glades county slewed the results to favor "healthier" appearing results. The Hendry-Glades Health Department, a state agency, does its best to provide many services to address some of the concerns noted in the health survey but has limited resources to deal with the complexity of the issues in the area. The Health Department does have several times a year free health screenings open to all area residents, one for women and one for men. Continuing services are available for pre-natal care, HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment, and other health screenings and prevention health areas.
Non-profit Family Health Centers, Inc operate dental and medical clinics here but are priced out of reach of many residents especially dental care. Service fees are hard to determine as rates are based on a somewhat "secret" sliding income scale. It appears that the maximum discount in the dental clinic is about 30% but even so matches other provider's fees in the area. Some clinic services are priced about the same or more than for-profit providers. Health Center's administrative offices have not returned several calls from the Sunday Morning News. Several for-profit professional dental and medical offices are also available in LaBelle and Clewiston, although getting a timely appointment is often a challenge. Professional services are more meager in Moore Haven.
Hendry and Glades county are among the poorest counties in Florida with the highest unemployment with about a quarter of the population living under the poverty level. Almost half of the population over 25 has no high school education and about one in twelve people are "linguistically isolated" referring to non-English speakers. 42% have no health insurance and only 54% have seen a dentist in the last year. Physicians are lacking, with only one-eighth the amount here per 100,000 residents compared to state-wide, one-quarter the amount of dentists, and one-third the amount of hospital beds compared to statewide numbers.