SCOTTSBURG, IN (WAVE) – After eight years of being ranked last for health outcomes in Indiana, Scott County is now out of that bottom spot. They're now 91 out of 92 counties but Combs said this is a victory for the community.
"It's very, very good. We've been waiting for this moment," said Brittany Combs with the Scott County Health Department.
A recent HIV outbreak brought national attention to the community's health and drug use issues. But for years, they've worked to overcome that through community programs and access to healthcare.
"Our overdose deaths have gotten way better since we've had the needle exchange," Combs said. "And we have access to that Narcan, and an access point to get people into recovery services."
The community desperately needed an access point, she said, and a place to help people find a way to sign up for healthcare or access clean needles. Through those programs they've slowly improved community health numbers.
Justin Rivas with County Health Rankings says the data provides a snapshot of how county health is doing, helping communities tackle issues like Scott County has in order to help improve overall quality of life.
"Provide this localized data so we can be informed at the local level," said Justin Rivas, Community Coach at County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. "But the roadmaps that's part of our program is how can we take this data to action locally in community."
Combs says their needle exchange program has a high success rate and high return rate, they're combating overdose deaths and helping more people access care. And now, they're finally seeing the data show the positives they're seeing here in the community.
"And we know we've dealt with a lot in the last several years and even looking at the rankings now, the data is from several years ago, so we know we're going to get better because a lot of things have improved in our county," Combs said.