CHARLEVOIX COUNTY - New data released in 2014 rank Charlevoix County as 7th out of Michigan's 82 reporting counties in terms of its Health Outcomes, which measure the quality and length of the life of its residents. Charlevoix also maintained its high marks in Health Behaviors, again ranking 13th in the state. These behaviors include alcohol and drug use, diet and exercise, sexual activity and tobacco use.
The County Health Rankings, now in their fifth year, are the product of a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. They measure the health of nearly all counties in the nation and rank them within states. Rankings are compiled using county-level measures from a variety of national and state data sources.
Linda Yaroch, Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, said Charlevoix County's favorable health rankings speak highly of the community, but added there is still much for Charlevoix to learn from the new County Health Rankings and Roadmaps published recently at www.countyhealthrankings.org. The site allows visitors to compare each county's health rankings against state and national rankings, and against its own rankings from previous years. Rankings now include several new health indicators, such as access to mental health providers, access to exercise opportunities and a food environment index.
"The next question we need to ask is what to do with this information," Yaroch said. "For example, we know access to certain health resources, such as outpatient mental health services for children and adults with Medicaid, is limited throughout Northern Michigan. The County Health Rankings help us to understand how such limitations may impact the overall health of the community. We should consider the rankings a call to action." Yaroch added that County Health Roadmaps found at the County Health Rankings website, www.countyhealthrankings.org, provide action steps for public health agencies, businesses, educators, philanthropists, investors, nonprofits, local government and healthcare providers to improve the overall health of their communities. "All members of the community affect, and are affected by, these rankings," she said. "Our 2012 Community Health Assessment has already triggered actions to address a number of key issues that influence County Health Rankings, such as substance abuse, obesity and access to care."
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information, visit www.nwhealth.org or call (800) 432-4121.