Health does not exist in a vacuum. So much more impacts health than having health insurance and going to the doctor (although those are both really important). The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps project, a partnership between the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, understands this. They work to figure out what’s making people sick or healthy and then figure out what communities can do to impact that.
According to the newest rankings released today, Oldham County has the healthiest residents in Kentucky and Perry County is the least healthy county in the state. The rankings also take into account health behaviors, like physical activity or inactivity, excessive drinking and smoking, and the physical environment, like safe drinking water and access to recreational facilities; and social and economic factors like children in poverty and violent crime rate.
This year, the County Health Rankings release includes a summary report: 2014 Rankings, Key Findings covering trends across the country, as well as a summary report for each state, including Kentucky.
This annual release is a good reminder about all that we can do to help improve the health of Kentuckians. From tackling the high rates of mothers smoking while pregnant, to enacting a state Earned Income Credit, we will not see improvements in health until we start tackling factors like poverty, family supports, and education.