OGDENSBURG – St. Lawrence County ranks near the bottom of the 2013 County Health Rankings relating to health outcomes and health factors, according to a press release from Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center.
The 2013 County Health Rankings, by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) shows that St. Lawrence County, compared to the rest of the counties in the state, ranks 55 out 62 in health outcomes and 56 out of 62 in health factors. Additional data shows that the County ranks 53 out of 62 for length of life, 58 out of 62 for quality of life, and 57 out of 62 for health behaviors.
The rankings look at a variety of measures that affect health, such as high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births. The rankings have been used to garner support for local health improvement initiatives among government agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, business leaders, policy makers and the public.
So what do the rankings mean to the community? The rankings help see that where people live, learn, work, and play influence how healthy people are and how long people live. They show what may be keeping people from being healthy and living their best life and doing things they enjoy like spending time with family and friends. The rankings show that things like having a job, a good education, access to healthy foods, and safe places to live affect how healthy people are.
Having health insurance is important, but much of what affects our health happens outside the doctor’s office. It’s hard to live a healthy life if you live in an unhealthy place. What people learn from the rankings is that it is not one single thing that makes us healthy or unhealthy---it’s a variety of factors, such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, and community safety. The rankings can help our community sharpen our focus on areas related to health that need improvement.
So what can people do collectively as a community to make changes?
Everyone has a role to play. No single sector alone can tackle the health challenges in a community. The rankings are bringing members of communities together to take action to improve health. It’s not just doctors or hospitals that help us be healthier—it’s the people who build roads, teach kids, pass laws, and create businesses. Moms and dads, students, coaches, and volunteers from all walks of life can create change. The rankings are helping communities create new pathways to better health by developing innovative approaches to reduce smoking, expand access to healthy foods, increase high school graduation rates, develop more bike and walk friendly neighborhoods, and much more.
So how can I get involved?
Get engaged in the movement towards total population health. Start with your family. It could be as simple as parking farther away at the grocery store, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. You could introduce your family to a new fruit or vegetable they have never had before. Attend one of the local Farmer’s Markets. They are a great resource and love to talk about what they grow and can give you tips on how to prepare your produce.
Take advantage of community events like 5Ks and recreational sporting activities. Or just simply start a walking program. Think of small changes that you can start right now that can lead to positive outcomes.
Over the next three years, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center will be working with members of the community to provide information and programs to help the people of St. Lawrence County work together to become a healthier community, and hopefully raise our Rankings.
The rankings measure the health of nearly every county in the nation. Published online at www.countyhealthrankings.org, the rankings help counties understand what influences how healthy residents are and how long they will live.
Info: 713-5251 or visit www.claxtonhepburn.org/contactus.