State will be highlighted as part of annual assessment of county health rankings
FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 1, 2014) — Oldham County ranks healthiest in Kentucky, according to the fifth annual County Health Rankings, released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The rankings are available at countyhealthrankings.org. In addition to the updated rankings, Kentucky has been selected by RWJF as one of three states being highlighted nationally for its success in implementing strategies for improving health at the community level.
“This report demonstrates public health successes and highlights opportunities for improvement in counties across the commonwealth,” said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Stephanie Mayfield. “Furthermore, in Kentucky, thousands of previously uninsured individuals now have access to care after enrolling in a health plan through our health benefit exchange, kynect. With so many people gaining access to health care – and comprehensive analysis on community health such as what is provided in the County Health Rankings – we are in a position to dramatically improve the health of the public.”
State officials and health leaders will gather April 2 at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort to celebrate Kentucky’s successes, highlighting promising local health projects and initiatives to improve community health. Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson will attend the event to outline Kentucky’s health successes and highlight Gov. Steve Beshear’s kyhealthnow initiative. Kyhealthnow is an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative to significantly reduce incidence and deaths from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies – including participation in outdoor activities at state parks – over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.
Tuesday’s event will feature four Kentucky communities – Grant, Todd, Floyd and Franklin counties – that have used the County Health Rankings to help their communities begin to show signs of progress.
The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. The rankings allow counties to see how well they are doing on 29 factors that influence health, including smoking, high school graduation rates, employment, physical inactivity and access to healthy foods.
According to the 2014 rankings, the five healthiest counties in Kentucky, starting with most healthy, are Oldham County, followed by Boone, Shelby, Calloway and Scott counties.
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision for a culture of health is one where everyone has the opportunity to be healthy,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “The County Health Rankings are a starting point for change, helping communities come together, identify priorities, and create solutions that will help all in our diverse society live healthier lives, now and for generations to come.”
The rankings provide county-to-county comparisons within a state. Nationally, this year’s rankings show that people living in the least healthy counties are twice as likely to have shorter lives as people living in the healthiest counties. Unhealthy counties also have twice as many children living in poverty and twice as many teen births as the healthiest counties. This year’s rankings also feature several new measures including housing, transportation and access to mental health providers.