(April 4, 2012) A new set of reports released today rank the health of nearly every county in the nation and shows that much of what affects health occurs outside of the doctor's office. For the third year, the County Health Rankings confirm the critical role that factors such as education, jobs, income, and environment play in how healthy people are and how long they live.
According to this year's reports, rankings for the four counties in the local Health District rose from 2011:
Published on-line at www.countyhealthrankings.org by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the County Health Rankings are based on the latest data available for each county. It is the only tool of its kind that measures the overall health of each county in all 50 states on the multiple factors that influence health. It includes snapshots of nearly every county with a color-coded map that compares each county's overall health with other counties in each of the 50 states. People can compare how their county is doing in areas like diabetes screening rates or number of uninsured adults to national benchmarks.
“The County Health Rankings are important because they help us identify factors that are making it difficult for residents to maintain a healthy lifestyle and understand how we compare to other counties in the state, said Linda Yaroch, Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “It's encouraging to see improvement across the Health District.”
Each county's rank reveals a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. The County Health Rankings reveal that all counties have areas where they can improve, even those that are the healthiest. Some highlights of what counties look like nationally:
“It's easier to be healthy if you live in a supportive, healthy community,” said Yaroch. “Health is impacted by where you live, work and play.” She said the County Health Rankings are just one of a dozen types of indicators being studied in a major “healthy community” assessment underway in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. Other categories of data are: demographic characteristics, socioeconomic characteristics, health resource availability, quality of life, behavioral risk factors, environmental health indicators, social and mental health, maternal and child health, death, illness, and injury, infectious diseases, and sentinel events. The Health Department is facilitating the “Mobilizing for Action through Planning & Partnerships” model with financial support and leadership from Charlevoix Area Hospital, McLaren-Northern Michigan, Otsego Memorial Hospital, and the Northern Health Plan.
“The approach combines studies with stories,” said Jane Sundmacher, who is leading the project. “Data collection is well underway across the Health District. Now we're planning how to collect themes in our communities, insights about quality of life, and community assets through broad-based county-level committees.” These committees are just getting organized and anyone interested in participating can contact Sundmacher at the Health Department at 231-347-5041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.