Goodhue County's health ranking leaves room for improvementIn a recent report rating all 84 of Minnesota’s counties on various factors that impact health, Goodhue County averages a spot right near the middle of the list.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
In a recent report rating all 84 of Minnesota’s counties on various factors that impact health, Goodhue County averages a spot right near the middle of the list.
“We’re not No. 1 so it gives us room for improvement,” said Ashlyn Christianson, community health specialist with Goodhue County Health and Human Services.
The rankings, done by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, place Goodhue County 53rd in health outcomes and 24th in health factors. They were released Monday during National Public Health Week, which runs April 2-8 and reminds Americans about the importance of public health.
“This report is just one more tool we use to gather information about the health of our local population and define goals within our department,” Goodhue County Health and Human Services Director Nina Arneson said.
Another method employed to gather information was the creation of a Citizens Advisory Group that includes representatives from several local agencies such as the CARE Clinic, the United Way and Fairview Red Wing Medical Center.
“The group came together five years ago to kind of figure out what the priorities in the county would be,” Christianson said.
It also gathered last summer and developed a survey that was sent to a random selection of residents in the area.
“That was just sort of gauging the community’s input on what they believe are health problems in the community,” Christianson said.
The results of the survey will likely be collected by June, when the group will get a chance to compare public opinion to data such as the health rankings and decide where Goodhue County needs the most improvement.
Until then, the Health and Human Services Department will take note of its position in the newly released report to judge areas of concern. However, Christianson noted, results of the report can sometimes be misleading. If a certain health behavior shows high numbers, it could be contributed in part to the fact that more screenings have been done, and more screenings is actually a positive thing.
“The numbers can be confusing in that way,” Christianson said.
For the report, health factors were broken down into four categories — health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment — that each gave the county a different rating. Its top spot came in clinical care where Goodhue County was considered 12th of 84. Aiding in that outcome was the county’s impressive percentages of diabetic screenings and mammography screenings — 90 and 80, respectively — both of which were higher than the Minnesota average.
The county was not represented as well in other sections, though several issues influenced the final outcome.
“A lot of it is it involves the entire community,” Christianson said.
For example, “we didn’t rank very high in physical environment,” she added. The high number of fast food restaurants and limited access to healthy foods in the county are just a couple of things that contribute to its rank of 64 in that category.
“It takes an entire community to change the environment,” Christianson said.