New Rankings Show Healthiest and Least Healthy Counties in Wisconsin
Forest County ranked 67 out of 72 counties for health outcomes and 68 for health factors, according to the seventh annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). It is a snapshot that compares counties within states and shows that where you live influences how well and how long you live. The local level data makes it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care including housing, education, jobs, access to healthy foods, and more. According to the 2017 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Wisconsin, starting with most healthy, are Ozaukee County, followed by Kewaunee County, St. Croix County, Taylor County, and Washington County. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Menominee County, Milwaukee County, Sawyer County, Adams County, and Washburn County.
Health Outcomes is measured by Length of Life and Quality of Life. Forest County has improved its premature death rates and number of low birthweight babies, but has worsened in the percentage of people reporting poor physical and mental health. These factors contribute to the health outcomes ranking of 67.
The Health Factors ranking is at 68 and is measured by four different categories; Health Behaviors, Clinical Care, Social and Economic Factors and Physical Environment. In the Health Behaviors category, percentage of adults smoking stayed the same and adult obesity increased. Excessive drinking and alcohol impaired driving deaths improved slightly while teen pregnancy numbers worsened. The number of sexually transmitted infections declined. Clinical Care is measured by the number of uninsured and the ratio of medical providers to residents, percentage of people with diabetes monitoring and mammography screenings, all which have improved slightly. The most weight is given to the Social and Economic factors, such as graduation rates, college education, unemployment, social supports, violent crime and injury. This year we do not have data for graduation rates, we showed slight improvement in unemployment and children in poverty and single-parent households but we worsened in violent crime and injury deaths. The last category, Physical Environment looks at clean air and water, housing and percentage of people driving alone. Once again we are ranked number one out of all 72 counties in this area.
While we are pleased to report that Forest County has improved from 69th to 67th in the health rankings across the state, there is much work to be done to continue to improve and make Forest County a healthy and safe place for everyone. The Rankings can be used to bring community leaders and residents together to find solutions to the challenges that communities face. They show us that where people live plays a key role in how long and how well they live. Forest County is fortunate to have multiple medical clinics, community health programs, tribal health programs and active coalitions and partners working to improve the health of the community by providing more opportunities to become physically active and eat healthier foods, offering health screenings and follow up care for chronic diseases, providing health education, prenatal programs, safety programs, prescription drug collections and drug and alcohol abuse programs. The Forest County Health Department has recently collaborated with Oneida and Vilas County to complete a Community Health Needs Assessment and Health Improvement Plan. The plan outlines the steps necessary to improve the health of our residents.
If you would like more information about the Rankings they are available at www.countyrankings.org.
Click here to view the plan: 2017 Community Health Improvement Plan