Monday, April 22, 2019 Medina 43°
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National survey rates Medina County high in health

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MEDINA — Medina County is one of the healthiest places to live in Ohio, according to recent data.

The county ranked fourth overall for health outcomes and fifth in health factors, according to the annual rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Medina County Health Commissioner Krista Wasowski said the high rankings reflect the priority the county has placed on improving the factors that affect residents’ health, and it also shows how important it will be to sustain those programs to stay healthy.

“I believe we are living longer and healthier overall as a county because of our access to health care, both provider access and insurance coverage,” Wasowski said. “We also have a well-educated community, which is aware of the steps needed to maintain health, and recreational options such as our park system that promote health.”

Among the statistics in the study:

  • 17 percent of adults in Medina County smoke (23 percent for Ohio; 14 percent for top U.S. performers, which represents the value for which only 10 percent of counties in the country are doing better, i.e., the 90th percentile or 10th percentile, depending on whether the measure is framed positively or negatively);
  • 30 percent of Medina County adults are obese (32 percent for Ohio; 26 percent for top U.S. performers);
  • Medina County has one mental health provider for every 890 residents (470 for Ohio; 310 for top U.S. performers);
  • 51 percent of Medina County residents received flu vaccinations (47 percent for Ohio; 52 percent for top U.S. performers).

“These rankings speak to one of the true assets we have — healthy community members,” United Way of Medina County CEO Cheryl Parzych said. “They also give us clues about areas where we could improve, and improvement is no accident.

“Through the Living Well Medina County Coalition, many are working at the community level to encourage individuals and programs to strengthen where needed. Purposeful support from the community will make a healthy future possible for everyone.”

Living Well Medina County is a collaboration of health care, government, education, business, nonprofit and faith communities in Medina County that together want to shape the community in a positive way.

The rankings also shed light on factors that are making residents unhealthy and what can be done to make Medina County a healthier place for everyone to live, learn, work and play:

  • 20 percent of Medina County residents excessively drink (19 percent for Ohio; 13 percent for U.S. top performers);
  • 8 percent of children live in poverty, increasing to 30 percent for black children and 10 percent for Hispanic children (20 percent for Ohio; 11 percent for U.S. top performers);
  • 6,000 premature deaths (8,500 for Ohio; 5,400 for U.S. top performers).

“For me, the most striking realities were the percentage of African-American children in our county living in poverty,” Wasowski said.

The health department said the rankings make it clear that where residents live influences how well and how long they live. The health department said it is working with local health care and government agencies, educational groups, faith-based organizations, and human service providers to set priorities and target resources.

Several good medical facilities in the county are also an asset.

“Another factor is the effort that groups like the health department, Medina Hospital, and other health-related entities in Medina County expend to educate our citizens on how to stay healthy in the long run,” Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital President Richard Shewbridge said in a statement.

In the study, health outcomes are described as measures of how long people live and how healthy people feel. Length of life is measured by premature death (years of potential life lost before age 75) and quality of life is measured by self-reported health status (percent of people reporting poor or fair health and the number of physically and mentally unhealthy days within the last 30 days) and the percentage of low birth weight newborns.

Health factors in the rankings represent the focus areas that drive how long and how well people live, including health behaviors (tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol and drug use, sexual activity), clinical care (access to care, quality of care), social and economic factors (education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety), and the physical environment (air and water quality, housing and transit).

“Since the first county rankings in 2010, Medina County has consistently ranked fifth or higher,” Wasowski said. “Medina County residents have several protective factors that contribute to our stable ranking, such as education, employment and income level.

“The rankings provide comparisons to other counties, the state of Ohio and top performers across the country. This provides a starting point for our county to develop programs to continue to improve the health of our residents, regardless of our rank.”

The complete rankings can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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