Wheeler County


·    Please note that some of the data discussed in the “Highlights” are either not available by county or the number of cases or respondents is too small to permit meaningful analysis. For these data elements, Service Area or other multi-county data have been presented and noted in the Profile. Further details are available in the “2005 County Profiles Definitions and Data Sources” document.




·    In the county, 15.7% of residents are aged 65 or older, according to the 2004 U.S. Census Estimates. Statewide, 13.3% of the population are 65 or older.

·    The proportion of county residents who were under age 18 was 28.4%, higher than the Nebraska average of 25.5% in 2004.

·    Racial and ethnic minority residents made up 0.9% of the population of the county, compared to 14.2% statewide in 2004.

·    In 2000, 6.5% of the county households were single-parent families, compared to an average of 12.4% for Nebraska.  

·    Overall, 9.2% of county residents aged 25 years or older have less than a high school education, compared to 13.4% statewide.




·    The proportion of county residents living in households with incomes below 100% of the federally-defined poverty level was 14.4% in 2002, above the average of 10.0% for Nebraska.

·    No seventh- to twelfth-graders in the county dropped out of school during the 2003-2004 school year, compared to 1.9% statewide.

·    In an average month in 2004, no Wheeler County children were in out-of-home care (that is, foster care, group homes or other residential care facilities).

·    The agencies serving domestic violence victims in the multi-county area including Wheeler County handled 1,676 crisis calls and served 102 new contacts in FY 2000.




·    Based on 41 deaths during the five-year period, the overall death rate in the county (940.9 deaths per 100,000 population) was 19% higher than the state average (789.1) for 2000-2004.

·    There were 26 new cases of cancer reported in the county during the five-year period 1999-2003, resulting in a rate (476.4 cases per 100,000 population) that was very close to the statewide rate (474.2).

·    The hospitalization rate for the county residents (10,198 hospital discharges per 100,000 population) was 3.7% higher than the Nebraska rate (9,837), based on 161 hospital discharges in 2003-2004.

·    Compared to the state overall (36.5%), Medicare was the expected payer for a much larger share of hospitalizations of county residents (52.2%) in 2003-2004. Medicaid accounted for a smaller share of the total (7.5% vs. 14.1% statewide).

·    No new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were reported in Wheeler County, compared to 424.4 reported cases per 100,000 population for the state in 2004.

·    Based on prevalence estimates supplied by the Alzheimer’s Association, it is estimated that  22 persons aged 65 and older in the county had senile dementia in 2004.




·    There were 2 deaths of infants under one year of age in the county during the five-year period 2000-2004. In Nebraska, there were 6.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births during this period, compared to the Nebraska 2010 objective of no more than 4.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

·    There were 2 low weight births (babies weighing less than 2,500 grams at birth) in the county in 2000-2004. Statewide, there were 69.4 low weight births per 1,000 live births during this five-year period. The Nebraska 2010 target rate is no more than 50 low weight births per 1,000.

·    In this county, there were no births to adolescent girls aged 10 to 17 in 2000-2004. An average of 2.9% of all Nebraska births occurred to girls under age 18.

·    An average of 10.4% of county women giving birth during the five-year period 2000-2004 reported smoking cigarettes during this pregnancy, compared to the state average of 14.1% of women giving birth. The Nebraska 2010 objective is to reduce this proportion to 2.0% or less.

·    Pregnant women in this county were less likely than Nebraska women overall to begin receiving prenatal care in the first three months of pregnancy (77.1% vs. 83.2% statewide) in 2000-2004. The Nebraska objective for the year 2010 is to have 90% of all pregnant women begin receiving prenatal care in their first trimester.

·    Results of an immunization survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 82.4% of Nebraska children aged 19 to 35 months were up-to-date on immunizations with all five recommended vaccines in 2004. The current Nebraska  objective is to have at least 90% of all children in this age group appropriately immunized.




·    Nearly one-fourth (24.2%) of adults in the Loup Basin Public Health district (which includes Wheeler County) reported heights and weights that placed them in the obese category (Body Mass Index = 30 or higher). The Nebraska 2010 objective is to reduce this proportion to no more than 15%.

·    The proportion of adults who said they had not participated in any leisure-time physical activity in the previous month was 27.6% in the district and 25.0% statewide. These rates are much larger than the state’s 2010 target rate of no more than 15% of adults who are physically inactive.

·    Adults in the district (16.9%) were less likely than Nebraska adults overall (21.1%) to state that they are current smokers. The Nebraska 2010 objective is to reduce the proportion of adults currently smoking cigarettes to no more than 12%.

·    The proportion of adults reporting they have no health insurance was 12.9% in the district and 11.9% statewide.

·    Nearly one in ten adults in the district (9.5%) and 8.4% statewide reported that there had been a time in the past 12 months when they were unable to see a doctor for needed care due to the potential cost of services. The Nebraska 2010 target is to reduce this proportion to no more than 4% of adults.

·    Prevalence of screening for breast cancer was lower in the district than it was in the state overall. Only 58.1% of women aged 40 and older in this district reported having a mammogram in the past two years, compared to 75.5% statewide.

·    Seven out of ten adults aged 65 and older in the district (71.9%) and 71.5% statewide had a flu shot in the past 12 months. A smaller proportion of these adults reported ever having been vaccinated for pneumonia (63.2% statewide and in this district) in 2000-2004. The Nebraska 2010 objectives for these adult immunizations have been set at 90%.

·    Based on results of the 2000-2004 Nebraska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, African Americans report higher prevalence of obesity (34% vs. 23%), no leisure-time physical activity (34% vs. 25%), and cigarette smoking (27% vs. 23%) than white BRFSS respondents. African Americans were also more likely to say they have no health insurance (20% vs. 11%) or could not afford to see a physician at some time during the past 12 months (17% vs. 9%).

·    Native Americans report a much higher prevalence of cigarette smoking (44% vs. 23%) than white persons in Nebraska do, and they were more likely to be physically inactive (29% vs. 25%) or obese (39% vs. 23%). They were more likely to report having no health insurance (27% vs. 11%) and to say there had been a time during the past 12 months when they could not afford to see to a doctor (21% vs. 9%).

·    Asian Americans in Nebraska were less likely than white persons in the state to be obese (11% vs. 23%). Like other members of racial and ethnic minority groups, a greater proportion of Asian Americans reported having no health insurance (14% vs. 11%).

·    Compared to non-Hispanic white persons in Nebraska, a greater proportion of Hispanic Americans stated they had not participated in any leisure-time physical activity in the previous month (44% vs. 25%). They were also more likely to have no health insurance (25% vs. 11%) and to be unable to afford to see a physician at least once in the past 12 months (17% vs. 9%).

·    According to the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Nebraska high school students are more likely than their counterparts nationwide to drink and drive and ride in a motor vehicle with a drinking driver. However, they were less likely to have ever used marijuana or to have used it, or tobacco, in the past 30 days.




·    Of the persons receiving their drinking water from 3 municipal water systems or rural water districts in the county, none received water containing excessive levels of nitrate (>10 ppm) from results sampled in 2000-2004.

·    Of the 2 community water systems sampled, none supplied an adequate level of fluoride in the drinking water in 2004. These systems supply water to 28.3% of the people who live in the county. 




·    There were no primary care physicians (GP/FP’s, IM’s, pediatricians, Ob/Gyn’s) in practice in the county in 2003. There were also no psychiatrists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or dentists practicing in the county.

·    All of Wheeler County has been federally-designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area. It is also a federally-designated Medically Underserved Area.




·    Children make up the greatest share of the Medicaid eligible population in the county (81.1%).

·    Medicaid expenditures for aged persons comprise 34.1% of the total in this county, compared to 29.4% statewide. ADC recipients (both children and adults) account for 43.3% of all Medicaid expenditures in the county, while blind and disabled recipients account for the remaining 22.5% of total expenditures.

·    Medicaid fee-for-service expenditures (77.7%) comprised the greatest share of the total in the county, as they did statewide (75.8%) in FY 2003.

·    Fee-for-service payments to nursing facilities made up 14.7% of total Medicaid expenditures in the county. Hospital services accounted for 22.9% and prescribed drugs comprised 25.8% of the total.

·    In FY 2004, a monthly average of 14 persons participated in the Food Stamp Program in the county.

·    In 2004, 17 women, infants and children from this county participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

·    There were no licensed beds in nursing homes or hospital long-term care facilities in the county in 2004.