In comparison to counties throughout Minnesota, Sherburne County ranked 41 for health outcomes and 48 for health factors, according to the 2013 County Health Rankings report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The list comes out just before National Public Health week as an opportunity to remind Americans about the importance of public health in their lives.
“Where we live is an important indicator of health,” Kathy Landwehr, Public Health supervisor, said. “Much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office. Where we live impacts how long and how well we collectively live, so we need to continually work together as a community to make our county as healthy as it can possibly be.”
The County Health Rankings are an effort to measure the health of communities, which depends on many different factors including environment, income, education, jobs, access to and quality of health care and individual behaviors such as diet, exercise and tobacco use—all of which impact quality of life and premature death rates. This year’s County Health Rankings include two new measures, including access to dental care and drinking water safety.
The report ranks both health outcomes and health factors to highlight the wide array of issues that determine health in local communities. Health outcomes include the rate of people dying before age 75, the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health, the rates of poor physical or mental health days and the rate of low-birth weight infants. Health factors include health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.
Minnesota’s local public health organizations already use a variety of methods to assess and measure the health of local communities. Sherburne County is currently participating in the Central Minnesota Community Health Survey. In February, there were 6,381 surveys distributed to Sherburne County residents to gather information that will provide a more accurate picture of health and wellness within the community and county. The County Health Rankings will be used with measurement tools such as the survey data to spur discussion and action across all sectors of community—including government, business, community and faith-based groups, education and public health—to improve the health of Sherburne County residents.