July 28, 2014

Medina
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Medina County keeps its top-notch health ranking

MEDINA — The county may have maintained its top-notch health rankings in a national report released Tuesday, but the Medina County Health Department says that doesn’t mean its work is done.

The county kept its rankings from last year as third best in health outcomes and fourth best in healthy behaviors of the state’s 88 counties in the 2012 County Health Rankings report by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.

The No. 1 and 2 counties, respectively, in health outcomes and healthy behaviors were Delaware and Geauga. Warren County ranked third in healthy behaviors.

The rankings take into account factors from each county, including education, access to healthy foods, employment and childhood poverty, and compare them to state and national statistics.

Kristen Hildreth, the health department’s director of health promotion, said the rankings are not based on data from the last year, so the department is doing more work on a local level to better judge the well-being of county residents.

“We might be doing better than other counties, but is that really where we want to be?” Hildreth said.

In health behaviors, where Medina County ranked third in the state, the survey showed 17 percent of adult residents are smokers and 28 percent are obese.

The study acknowledges a possible margin of error with each reported statistic.

Hildreth said a new feature this year analyzes access to healthy foods, including what percentage of food service options are fast food. In Medina County, 52 percent of restaurants are fast-food. Statewide, that number is 55 percent.

Areas to improve, Hildreth said, include decreasing the percentage of people in the county who reportedly do not partake in any leisure-time physical activity. That number stands at 24 percent, according to the survey.

The Health Department also is looking to increase its reach into the community, Hildreth said, including making immunization clinics more accessible.

“It’s really about making sure folks have that supportive environment for healthy behaviors,” she said.

The department is working with a new coalition called Living Well Medina County in order to look at areas for health improvement, which is the goal of the local study, Hildreth said.

Some residents may receive a survey in the mail for the Health Department’s localized data collection. Hildreth said the study should be completed in the fall.

For all the data from the national survey, go to www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.