The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released their 2017 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report. The County Health Rankings measure the health outcomes and health factors of each county to rank them within their state. The report provides an evaluation of the overall health outcomes for each county by measuring longevity and quality of life of the county’s residents. The rankings are important to review to determine how healthy your county is while discovering factors that drive positive or negative health.
The Suwannee River Area Health Education Center (SRAHEC) focuses on providing public health services for 12 counties in north central Florida. Our 12 counties have a common trend in their rankings: Alachua (26), Bradford (61), Columbia (57), Dixie (56), Gilchrist (49), Hamilton (63), Lafayette (6), Levy (60), Marion (43), Putnam (64), Suwannee (54), and Union (67). Because the state of Florida is home to 67 counties, the rankings for the SRAHEC’s 12 counties fall on the lower end for the state. This means the residents of the 12 counties, on average, have a lower longevity and quality of life compared to the residents of other counties in Florida. A deeper look into the health outcome rankings for the counties suggests our area to be a medically underserved population experiencing healthcare shortages.
As previously mentioned, the health outcomes rank is determined with length of life and quality of life of the county’s population. Length of life is measured by the amount of people in the county who experienced premature death, meaning years of life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population. Premature death rate is a significant indicator of poor health in a county. Florida has an overall average amount of 6,700 premature deaths while our 12 counties have an average of 9,858 premature deaths. Additionally, quality of life can be determined with measurements in poor or fair health, poor physical health days, poor mental health days, and low birthweight. Quality of life measures how healthy people feel while alive and is an essential component for positive overall health. Our 12 counties have an average overall ranking for quality of life of 42 indicating a lower quality of life for the residents of these counties compared to the rest of Florida.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report provides insight on health outcome data for the 12 counties SRAHEC serves. Collecting data on different communities assists in the development of solutions to address the health disparities in each county. Through this research, public health agencies can become aware of the gaps in achieving equitable care in their populations. The report allows us to evaluate what we know in regards to keeping people healthy as well as influence us in taking action to create a healthier environment. The SRAHEC will use the County Health Rankings information to continue providing healthcare services to rural and underserved populations in our 12 counties.