A new report finds the healthiest parish in Louisiana is West Feliciana and the least healthy is East Carroll.
East Baton Rouge is ranked the 18th healthiest parish in the state while Ascension is ranked seventh and Livingston is ranked 17th out of the state’s 64 parishes.
The report released Wednesday is the fourth County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report from the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. The report compiles a variety of data including mortality, smoking, alcohol use, access to health care, education and the environment to rank counties in each state.
St. Tammany Parish, which was ranked first in the past three reports, ranked third this year.
Dr. Takeisha Davis, assistant state health officer with the Department of Health and Hospitals, said parishes such as West Feliciana and St. Tammany have always ranked high in the report because of the large amount of educated people from those areas.
“Seventy percent of the factors looked at for the report involve health behaviors and social economic factors, so you have a high amount of education with high amounts of high school graduation rates and college graduates,” Davis said
Lee Chastant, chief executive officer of the West Feliciana Parish Hospital, said he was both “surprised and not surprised” by his parish’s inclusion at the top of the list.
“On the one hand we are a rural parish and have a certain amount of people living in poverty and you have access to care issues,” Chastant said. “But on the other hand we have a hospital that is proactive when it comes to wellness as well as proactive primary care physicians when it comes to wellness.”
Chastant also said the parish school’s system’s Family Service Center provides medical care and preventative medical care such as immunizations at no cost to students.
The population of West Feliciana is 15,000 people, with about 5,000 of those in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
Angela Russell, a University of Wisconsin associate researcher, said premature death data from the population of the prison was used in the report findings.
Davis said the main takeaway from the report findings was the state still has a way to go in social service education that helps show residents how to prevent bad health outcomes.