Dubois County ranks No. 2 on state health list

From local sources

A new report says Dubois County is the second-healthiest county in Indiana, while neighboring Pike and Martin counties are among the least healthiest.

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the 2011 County Health Rankings report today, ranking the overall health of counties in every state in the country.

For the second year in a row, counties are receiving a snapshot of how healthy their residents are by comparing their overall health and the factors that influence their health with that of residents of other counties.

“This report is important because it helps us identify factors that are affecting our residents and understand how we compare to other counties in the state,” Donna Oeding, Dubois County Health Department administrative director, said in a news release. “Our high ranking in this report helps us identify areas where we have succeeded in our county and where we still need to do more. With this knowledge, we can take steps to improve health in Dubois County.”

The report lists “health outcomes,” in which Dubois County placed second in the state, and “health factors,” in which Dubois County placed sixth.

The health outcomes ranking is based on measures of mortality and morbidity. The mortality rank, representing length of life, is based on a measure of premature death, defined as the years of potential life lost prior to age 75. The morbidity rank is based on measures that represent health-related quality of life and birth outcomes. Four morbidity measures are combined: self-reported fair or poor health, poor physical health days, poor mental health days and the percent of births with low birth weight.

Health factors cover health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

In turn, each of these factors is based on several measures. Health behaviors include measures of smoking, diet and exercise, alcohol use and risky sex behavior. Clinical care looks at the number of uninsured adults, care providers and diabetic and mammography screenings. Social and economic factors include measures of education, employment, income, family and social support and community safety. The physical environment looks at air pollution and access to healthy foods and recreational facilities.

“If you look at all the measures in the report, it becomes very obvious there are many different players in the overall public health in Dubois County,” Oeding said. “We will continue to work with our partners to maintain and improve our high county ranking for years to come. Everyone has a stake in community health. We all need to work together to find solutions.”

Oeding cited the Dubois County Public Health Partnership as an example of this collaboration. This group was formed to assure that the health care and public health services that best serve the needs of the population are provided. Partnership members include Memorial Hospital, Tri-Cap, Generations, Southern Hills, all county school corporations, Vincennes University Jasper Campus, Kimball International, OFS Brands, Wabash Valley Produce, Jasper Engines & Transmissions, government officials and the county health department.

The report found Hamilton County to be the healthiest in the state. Completing the top 10 are Boone, LaGrange, Hendricks, Warrick, DeKalb, Wells, Whitley and Marshall counties.

The county with the poorest health outcomes was Scott, followed by Starke, Pike, Switzerland, Fayette, Sullivan, Martin, Jennings, Lake and Jay.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Online: www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Contact The Herald at news@dcherald.com.

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