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CONNECT TO | Research & Resources
April 2011

County health rankings
Using information to improve the health of communities

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released the second year of the County Health Rankings, a comprehensive report that ranks the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states by using a standard measure of how healthy people are and how long they live. Over the past year, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) helped counties across the state acknowledge and build on their strengths and address their weaknesses, included in the Rankings. ODH also is helping communities implement innovative strategies to place an additional emphasis on prevention and primary care.

County Health Rankings

The rankings include a snapshot of each county in Ohio, comparing each county's overall health. Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health for Ohio by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the number of days people report being in poor physical health, or poor mental health and the rate of low-birth weight infants.

The rankings also look at factors that affect people's health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. Factors included: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, teenage births, availability of primary care providers, children in poverty, community safety, access to healthy foods and air pollution levels.

Three counties have used the rankings to improve their health of their communities.

Meigs County was ranked near the bottom, based on clinical care. A community effort led Family Health Care, a federally qualified health center (FQHC), to locate in the county and build a new primary care facility that will provide medical and dental services to all citizens on a sliding fee scale. The Southern Local School District added a nurse practitioner to provide basic medical services. The county is taking a variety of steps to encourage positive health habits and improve upon its other rankings.

Henry County was completing a comprehensive Community Health Assessment when the rankings were released. They identified general strengths and opportunities for improvement, and the Community Health Assessment provided important details about the health of the population. The health department is creating a community health improvement plan and is using data provided by residents.

The Wayne County Family and Children First Council (FCFC) coordinates services across local government agencies and public and private sector organizations in the county. They incorporated information from the rankings with other community-level information and chose to focus on the assets that contribute to the well?being of children and their families. The FCFC has identified best practices to implement and works with participating organizations to carry out evidence-based projects.

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Research & Resources

Two reports on HCBS waivers and Money Follows the Person
The Kaiser Foundation released reports on two programs that serve care recipients and family caregivers. The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program was started in 2006 with a goal of transitioning 38,000 people from institutional care to community care. Hhowever, as of July 2010, only 9,000 people have been transitioned back to the community. Affordable housing was cited as a large impediment to transitioning more people. The second report analyzed the three main home- and community-based services programs. As of 2009, there were 139 waivers in 39 states with more than 365,000 individuals on waiting lists (221,898 for MR/DD population; 107,563 for aged and aged/disabled populations). The average wait time on the wait list for all waivers was 21 months, and the report provides data and charts with information specific to each state.

Ohio's 2010 census population totals
The U.S. Census Bureau has released more detailed 2010 Ohio Census population totals and demographic characteristics. These data provide the first look at population counts for small areas and race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data released from the 2010 Census.


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