New County Health Rankings Released!

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

Click here to view the plan: 2017 Community Health Improvement Plan


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on New County Health Rankings Released!

Forest, Oneida and Vilas County Community Health Improvement Plan

“Becoming the Healthiest Nation” is this year’s theme for National Public Health Week which starts April 3rd. There could not be a better time to announce the completion of the Forest, Oneida and Vilas County Health Improvement Plan!

The multi-county plan is a collaboration among health departments, community members, health care partners, local elected officials, tribal health partners, and other government agencies.   Health departments and hospital systems both have requirements to complete local health assessments and because there are many agencies, including health care systems that serve all three counties it made sense to collaborate on one health improvement plan. During the recently completed Community Health Assessment, the top three priority health issues were identified as Chronic Disease, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, and Mental Health. The Community Health Improvement Plan includes goals, objectives and target outcomes, along with suggested strategies to improve those health issues.

The intent of the plan is to provide an outline for our many coalitions that are already working to improve the health of our residents and also foster new partnerships and encourage others to work together. Health is not something we get at a doctor’s office; it starts in our homes, schools and work places, and playgrounds and parks.   The strategies in the plan include suggested programs that have been shown to be effective but it also stresses that we need to improve our physical and social environment and implement policies to make healthy behaviors the easy choice.

The plan is closely linked to Wisconsin’s Health Plan: Healthiest Wisconsin 2020, Everyone Living Better Longer. There are several overarching priority areas within the plan; health across the lifespan, health equity, and access to health care. By assessing health at all stages of life, providing equal opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic status, and addressing barriers to everyone receiving quality care, we will contribute to a better quality of life for all of our residents.

The next steps are to share this plan with the community and work with existing coalitions to implement the strategies and measure success toward the goals. A copy of the Community Health Improvement Plan can be found on each county’s website. It is our hope that community members will read through the plan and find some way to incorporate these strategies into your work, home and your lifestyle.  If you are interested in participating in a workgroup or any activities related to the improving the health of all residents, please call your local health department for more information.

Click here to view the plan: 2017 Community Health Improvement Plan , or view it under the Community Health Plan menu tab.

Forest County Health Department                                                    Oneida County Health Department     715-478-3371                                                                                             715-369-6111

Vilas County Health Department                                                                                                               715-479-3656

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Forest, Oneida and Vilas County Community Health Improvement Plan

March is National Nutrition Month!

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created every year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It is designed to bring awareness to the importance of making informed food choices and developing lasting, positive nutrition and physical activity habits.

The theme for this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”. This is a reminder that each bite counts, and even making small changes in our food choices can add up over time and make a difference in our overall health.

This month you are encouraged to start making these small changes to improve your health. You can do this by including a variety of your favorite, healthy foods in your meals and cooking more meals at home while experimenting with fresh, healthier ingredients. If you do choose to go out to eat, it is easier than ever to choose healthier options at restaurants. Choose a side salad or steamed vegetables rather than mashed potatoes or fries. You can also control your portions by asking for a to-go box when you get your meal and put half of it away to bring home.

Remember that good nutrition and physical activity go hand-in-hand. Find different activities that you enjoy and try to be active most days of the week. Enjoy the warmer weather by taking a walk outside!

For more information, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website at

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on March is National Nutrition Month!

National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, placing emphasis on the need for parents and caregivers to take action early to ensure the health of their children’s teeth.

The Forest County Health Department reminds the public that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in children. Each year, more than 51 million school hours are lost due to dental related problems. Fortunately, with good oral health care habits, tooth decay can be prevented.

CDC lists some things you can do to ensure good oral health for your child:

  • Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. If your child is less than 7 years old, put only a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush.
  • If your drinking water is not fluoridated, talk to a dentist, physician, or health department about the best way to protect your child’s teeth.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants. They protect teeth from decay.
  • If you are pregnant, get prenatal care and eat a healthy diet. The diet should include folic acid to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord and possibly cleft lip/palate.

Taking care of your children’s teeth, including baby teeth, from the very start is the key to good oral health. A child should visit the dentist when his or her first tooth appears, or by his or her first birthday. Parents and caregivers are very important to serve as role models and teaching their children good oral (dental) health care habits, including proper brushing and flossing techniques, eating nutritious foods and making regular visits to the dentist.

Forest County Public Health partners with the Northwoods Dental Project to provide dental varnishes, sealants, and exams in area Head Starts and schools. Please visit our Northwoods Dental Project website under Services/Dental to find out about our programs to keep your child’s teeth healthy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is American Heart Month!

February is American Heart Month

This month is the time to learn about your risks of heart disease and stroke, and learn how to stay “heart healthy” for yourself and your loved ones. Cardiovascular disease –including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. About 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 40 seconds. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.

Follow these tips for better heart health:

  • quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke
  • control your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure
  • eat a healthy diet
  • get physically active
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • avoid alcohol consumption
  • get regular check-ups with your provider.

Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke. To improve overall cardiovascular health, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise is suggested. Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on February is American Heart Month!