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Livingston County ranks among the healthiest in New York

Livingston County continues to rank high – within the top 25% of the state – according to the annual County Health Rankings, released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).  The Rankings are available HERE.

The County is 11th of 62 counties in terms of overall health and health outcomes.  These outcomes include physical and mental well-being of residents measured by the length and quality of life.  The County ranks 15th in terms of health factors that influence health outcomes.  The factors are within four broad areas of health behaviors (such as tobacco use, diet and exercise), clinical care (access and quality), social and economic factors (such as education, employment, income, etc.), and physical environment (including air and water quality, housing and transit).

The County Health Rankings allow anyone to see the overall health in every county in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, the data revealed that unhealthy counties have more than twice the rate of premature deaths than healthy ones and childhood poverty rates are twice as high in unhealthy counties. The Rankings allow counties to see how they compare to other counties within the state, based on a range of factors that influence health, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. This year’s Rankings include new measures, such as how many dentists are in a community per resident, childcare cost burden; median income by race, and other critical factors affecting individual’s overall health and well-being.

The Rankings include a snapshot of each county in New York with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. There are also new county-level trend graphs detailing change over time for several of the measures, including children in poverty, unemployment, and quality of care.  

“We all have a stake in creating a healthier community and no single sector alone can tackle the health challenges in any given community,” said Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, professor and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Collaboration is critical. The Rankings are sparking action all over the country as people from all sectors join forces to create new possibilities in health—county by county.”

Livingston County received improved and high ranking scores over the past couple of years.  Strengths include high rates of residents that have health insurance, mammography screenings, flu vaccinations, and high school graduations rates. The County teen birth rates and unemployment levels are low, which is a positive in terms of health outcomes.

The County improvement areas include reducing adult smoking (the county shows 19% vs. the state’s overall rate of 13%), obesity (with almost one third of the county considered obese, 32%, compared to the state’s 27%), and excessive drinking (higher than the average state rate). Other worsening factors include access to healthy foods, drug overdose deaths, self-reported poor mental health days, suicide rates, and more children in poverty as compared to past reports. There is more that can be done.

Livingston County Administrator Ian M. Coyle states, “County residents, partnerships, and organizations working together to address systemic, on-going, and emerging issues are crucial to the health of all of our residents. Grocery store losses, housing shortages, child care costs, mental health needs, continued COVID-19 impacts, and lack of employees in the service industry continue to impact our community members, which impacts their health and well-being. The County Health Rankings allow us to re-focus and apply continued efforts to both our successes and growing needs, while exploring what is working with other counties around the country. We are glad to see that the residents of Livingston County continue to value and find solutions to address health needs and help each other thrive.”

For any questions, please contact the Livingston County Department of Health at 585-243-7270 or visit online.