July 12, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Foundation defends health award for Allen County

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Allen County won a Culture of Health prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2017. Yet, the same week in 2017 that the foundation was doing a site visit to Allen County Regional Hospital, the FDA declared the hospital’s mammograms were “a serious risk to human health.”

In an email to The Sentinel in March, Jesse Woltje with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said, “Allen County Hospital stopped doing mammography. They are not allowed to perform mammograms unless they are an accredited facility to do so.  The facility no longer has accreditation from the American College of Radiography (ACR) or facility certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

Yet, Allen County won the health prize months after the hospital mammography accreditation was lost. The hospital is still unable to perform mammograms.

In an emailed statement to The Sentinel, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said, “The hospital accreditation question you mention in your inquiry did not come up in Allen County’s application or during our site visit and therefore did not factor into our selection decision.”

Yet, according to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, which is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program, only 34% of Medicare eligible women in Allen County ages 65-74 received an annual mammogram in 2016. There is no data for years since.

Their emailed statement also said the foundation’s site visit to Allen County focused on “a range of accomplishments to improve the county’s social & economic conditions and physical environment.”  Oddly, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps shows Allen County is ranked 89th in the state out of 102 for social and economic factors. Children in poverty are on an upward trend, increasing from 17% in 2002 to 23% for 2017; that’s worse than the state average, which rose from 12% to 15%.  Follow up questions to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation were not answered.

This is comes as more bad news for the county emerges. The U.S. Census estimates show the population decreased again last year, marking the 19th consecutive annual decline. The most recent annual GDP results show the county’s private economy contracted 5.8% between 2012 and 2015 while government GDP increased by 4.4%.  Allen County was one of 62 counties where the private sector declined but government grew over the period.

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