Submitted by Thurston County
The annual County Health Rankings report released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute today showed Thurston County moving up the rankings to ninth out of Washington’s 39 counties when it comes to community health.
The County Health Rankings project grades counties across the country on how healthy people are today and measure factors that influence how healthy the community will be in the future. Looking at factors outside of the doctor’s office, the project collects data from counties on critical aspects of our community, such as education rates, income levels, and access to healthy foods, as well as access to medical care, that influence how long and how well people live.
While Thurston County has improved from 14th in 2012 to ninth this year, health officials and community leaders agree that more can be done to make Thurston County’s community health better.
“Moving up from 14th to ninth in this ranking is the direction we want to go. It shows we’re working hard in Thurston County to make this a happy and healthy community. But we can do better. We should work to be number one,” said Thurston County Board of Health Chair Karen Valenzuela.
To prompt the action needed to continue improving health, the Thurston County Board of Health is launching a new initiative named Thurston Thrives, aimed at bringing together community leaders from all walks of life to focus on where best to collectively set local health improvement goals. On April 9, the Thurston County Board of Health will announce the Thurston Thrives Advisory Council that will work with Board of Health members to tackle four key areas that make a difference in quality of life and how long people live—health behavior, the physical and built environment, health services, in addition to local social and economic conditions.
The County Health Rankings show a focus on health behavior and the physical environment could make a difference and improve Thurston County’s community health. Thurston County ranked 19th for health behaviors, which means the community could do better in areas like curbing cigarette smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. Thurston County ranked 24th for measures that describe the physical environment.
For more information on Thurston Thrives, visit www.ThurstonThrives.org.
To learn more about the County Health Rankings project, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org