Hamilton County's health ranking falls below most of Ohio

CINCINNATI -- Hamilton County is a less healthy place to live than you may have thought.

Based on two health categories, Hamilton County ranked 64 out of 88 counties in Ohio, according to a survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The survey measured health outcomes and health factors.

The county's score also falls below the national mark for mortality, measured by deaths before age 75.

The survey incorporated 29 areas of behavior, the environment and socio-economic statuses to grade each county's health ranking. Each county scored higher if its citizens were of healthy weights, nonsmokers, physically active, able to access to grocers that sold nutritious foods, had plenty of doctors available, graduated high school and were working, Laura Randall, spokeswoman for The Health Collaborative said.

She said Hamilton County's ranking dropped due to smoking, alcohol use, disease, teen birth rate, children living in poverty, high crime and visits to the hospital.

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On the other hand, Hamilton County scored better, and above the national benchmark, for diabetic and mammogram screenings, and the number of doctors compared to the population.

If investments and efforts go as planned, Hamilton County will raise scores for the factors that keep its health ranking down. Since 2011, about $13 billion has helped healthcare initiatives.

“What is missing is a coordinated, data-driven regional approach to improving health and the delivery of health care,” Craig Brammer, CEO of The Health Collaborative, HealthBridge, and the Greater Cincinnati Health Council said. “We believe that applying a Collective Impact strategy to our region’s health issues can move the needle on some of these factors.”

The Health Collaborative, Randall said, will support Collective Impact, as it teams up with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC), Interact for Health and the Hamilton County Health Department. It's also pulled endorsement from local hospitals and three health plans. Driving the plans will be Dee Ellingwood, former senior vice president for planning and business development for Children's Hospital.

“The importance of health cannot be overstated," Rob Reifsnyder, president of UWGC said. "Achieving and maintaining good health is important during all stages of life, from prenatal health through childhood to adulthood to later years in life.”

Raising the health bar through Collective Impact, as Ellingwood believes, can happen with help from community leaders, along with better health habits among community members.

“Central to our ability to make good choices will be our ability to use data to point us to the areas where we can have the most impact,” Ellingwood said. “Just as businesses use data to identify opportunities, test strategies, and measure success, we can apply that discipline to our approach to improving health.”

"We believe this process can result in a healthier population, the highest quality health care delivery system and lower overall cost to the community,” Brammer said. “When we achieve that, health and health care will become a differentiator that becomes a highly valued advantage for our region.”

The County Health Ranking 's results placed Warren County at the top, and Adams County at the bottom. In Kentucky, Boone County ranked highest, and Gallatin County scored the least healthy rank.

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