Rockingham edges local counties in overall health

Alex Sirney -- February 18th, 2010

Guest blogger Alex sifts through a new report on health rankings in Virginia.

Rockingham County ranks 18 in overall health statewide out of 132 ranked counties and incorporated cities, according to the County Health Rankings project, based at the University of Wisconsin, with Shenandoah County coming in at 24, Harrisonburg at 33, Augusta County at 37, Staunton at 47 and Page County at 48.

The project is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and part of the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) project, according to its web site. The methods used have been
used by Wisconsin for the past six years.

The project ranked each state according to health outcomes, or overall health and health factors, or the social factors that contribute to the overall health of the county, based on government reported statistics from 2002 through 2008. The site provides extensive descriptions of these categories as well as its ranking methods.

In addition to comparison rankings, the project provides rates in several categories, including health behaviors, access to health care (including percent of insured adults), and social, economic and environmental factors.

The report is intended to serve as a call to action for local communities and health departments:

The Rankings team is working with health departments to help them take advantage of the discussions and opportunities that will arise from the release of the Rankings. But efforts will also be made to mobilize community leaders outside the public health sector to take action and invest in programs and policy changes that address barriers to good health and help residents lead healthier lives. That includes education officials; elected and appointed officials, including mayors, governors, health commissioners, city/county councils, legislators, and staff; businesses and employers; the health care sector, and others.

Of the 132 counties and independent cities ranked, Fairfax County ranked number 1 in the state, and Buchanan County ranked last, at 132. Lexington and Highland county were not ranked, presumably because of insufficient data.

Alex Sirney is a Harrisonburg resident and filmmaker. He is a former editor at The Breeze and currently works at JMU.

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2 Responses to “Rockingham edges local counties in overall health”

  1. Dany Fleming says:

    The Healthy Community Council ( certainly deserves some long overdue credit for tackling and coordinating around a number of local health issues. This seems like a pretty good ranking and justifies some of their hard and serious work.

  2. seth says:

    nice synthesis alex,
    in a quick comparison of harrisonburg to rockingham, it looks like there aren’t that many significant differences (the most striking to me was that the teen birth rate in the county is more than twice that in the city). i’m guessing that the distance between ranking 18 and 33 isn’t that significant, but i’m interested to take a look when i have a minute and try to determine how they’re weighing specific factors to establish the overall ranking.

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