New rankings show healthiest and least healthy counties in WI

PRINCETON, N.J. AND MADISON, WIS. – The ninth annual County Health Rankings were released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

St. Croix County ranked 6th out of 72 counties for health outcomes and 5th for health factors. Dunn County ranked 21st in overall rankings in health outcomes and 34th in overall rankings in health factors. Pierce County ranked 7th for health outcomes and 20th for health factors.

“The Rankings confirm the results of our last community health needs assessment that identified mental health, obesity and alcohol as the top priorities for Healthier Together to address” said Dianne H-Robinson, Interim Health Officer, Pierce County Health Department.  Deb Lindemann, Health Officer St. Croix County said, “We are pleased to have Pierce and St. Croix Counties rank consistently among the top twenty counties but we recognize that there is still much that can be done to impact health factors and improve health outcomes for all people who live in our communities.”

An easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states, the Rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live. The local-level data make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care including housing, education, and jobs. This year’s new Rankings State Reports show meaningful gaps in health persist not only by place, but also by race and ethnicity. Looking at differences by place and race offers a more complete picture of health. This year’s analyses show that lack of opportunity, such as education, jobs, and affordable housing, disproportionately affects people of color across the nation and within Wisconsin. 

According to the 2018 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Wisconsin, starting with most healthy, are Ozaukee County, followed by Taylor County, Pepin County, Washington County, and Waukesha County. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Menominee County, Milwaukee County, Sawyer County, Adams County, and Langlade County. 

“We can’t be a healthy, thriving nation if we continue to leave entire communities and populations behind,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “Every community should use their County Health Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults – regardless of their race or ethnicity – have the same opportunities to be healthy.”

Our children will become more resilient, and grow into stronger, healthier adults with greater economic opportunities if we build communities with quality education, emotional and social support, access to quality health care, and safe, affordable, and stable housing.

The Rankings have become an important tool for communities that want to improve health for all. In Pierce and St. Croix Counties, the two health departments, Hudson Hospital and Clinic, River Falls Area Hospital, Western Wisconsin Health, Westfields Hospital and Clinic, and United Way St. Croix Valley, lead Healthier Together – Pierce & St. Croix Counties, a community coalition working to create and maintain healthy communities and provide a strategic framework for local health improvement activities. The coalition uses data and resources from the county health rankings, data from other sources, and community input to identify and address health priorities. The top priorities currently being addressed are mental health, obesity/overweight, and alcohol abuse. For more information on Healthier Together, visit www.healthier2gether.org or check us out on Facebook.