A nonprofit focused on improving health care in Nevada released its third annual report card for the state on Wednesday.
The Silver State received a D overall, the same as each of the past two years.
The nonprofit, Nevada Medical Center, gathers and analyzes data to provide to lawmakers, hospitals and community leaders to help identify problems in care and find solutions, President Julie Murray said.
“You can’t fix what you can’t measure,” Murray said.
Despite some gains, Nevada still falls below the national average in key areas, said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst with Applied Analysis, which crunched the numbers.
Here are some of the key grades and findings from the center’s research:
— Access to health care: D, same as last year
Low numbers of medical care providers compared to other parts of the U.S. contribute to the low rating. However, the numbers of physicians and other providers offering primary care have risen since last year’s report card.
— Chronic diseases: C, same as last year
In Nevada, the leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer and lower respiratory disease. Nevada has the seventh-highest heart disease mortality rate in the U.S. On a positive note, Nevada has the seventh-lowest mortality rate for diabetes.
— Oral health: C, a new category
Nearly 74 percent of Nevadans are served by municipal water systems that are fluoridated, a proven measure for reducing cavities in teeth. But only 60 percent of Nevada adults visited a dentist in 2016.
— Nutrition and activity: C, down from last year’s B
“Nevada’s child obesity rate increased from 12.2 percent in 2016 to 14 percent in 2016, double the rate of the increase nationwide,” according to the findings.
— Substance abuse: D, down from last year’s C
Nevada’s grade declined “following increased usage of numerous drugs including marijuana,” the report card states. “Marijuana usage rates rose from 13.1% to 16.8%, likely related to Nevada’s legalization of the substance in 2017.”
“Nevada earns its worst grades for substance abuse among youth,” according to the research. It ranked 50th in the nation for “youth with an illicit drug use disorder” and 43rd for “youth with an alcohol use disorder.”
— Mental health: C, same as last year
“Nevada received F grades for categories that involve youth, including the prevalence of mental illness among youth and the proportion of youth experiencing a severe depressive episode,” the report card states. However, depression among the Medicare population was comparatively low.
“While 15.6 percent of Nevada adults report having depression, well below the U.S. average of 20 percent, Nevada’s suicide rate is 20.3 per 100,000 residents compared to just 14 percent for the U.S. overall.”
— Infectious diseases, D, same as last year
“Hepatitis A, B and C rates have been relatively stable for the past five years throughout the United States and Nevada,” the report card states. However, Nevada had the highest syphilis rate out of the 50 states in 2017.
For more information on Nevada Medical Center or to view the report card, visit nvmedicalcenter.org.