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2018 County Health Rankings Released

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The 2018 County Health Rankings have been released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). These rankings use specific data related to health outcomes and health factors to evaluate community health nationwide. The County Health Rankings measure the health of communities by examining how long people live and how healthy they feel.

In 2018, Broome County ranks 53rd in health outcomes, out of the 62 New York State counties. Previously, Broome County (in the 2017 Rankings) was ranked 55th, and in 2016, 56th

I knew Broome County could do better. I am proud to see our ranking improve, however we cannot stop here. There is still much work to be done incorporating healthy behaviors where we live, learn, work and play.” said Jason Garnar, Broome County Executive. “We need to make it easy for our community to live healthy,” added Garnar.

For the 2018 Rankings, Broome County improved its Length of Life ranking to 52 out of 62 counties. This is a much better rank, as compared to Broome’s rank of, 56 out of 62 in 2016. This improvement means the county has had less years of productive life lost from premature death. Rather than examine overall death rates, the County Health Rankings look at the premature death rate, deaths that occur among people under the age of 75 (Length of Life).

“I am pleased to see less years of productive life lost due to premature death,” said Rebecca Kaufman, Director of Public Health for Broome County.  I was concerned that our premature death rate would be higher due to the challenges we have faced in the past with high rates of chronic disease and the current challenges we face with the opioid epidemic.”  “This is a credit to our community leaders and residents coming together to find solutions.”

Executive Garnar created the Get Healthy Broome Task Force in response to last year’s need for help to address Broome County’s health ranking. The task force, comprised of several county departments, community members and Broome County legislators met several times to collectively came up with a plan to improve the health outcomes and health factors in Broome.

In the 2018 County Health Rankings, Broome County ranks 8 out of 62 counties in New York State for Physical Environment, which includes Air and Water Quality and Housing and Transit.

Also, Clinical Care in Broome County received high marks for 2018. Broome ranks 16th out of

62 counties for access to care and quality of care.

The County Health Rankings are released annually and were first issued in 2010. The full rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

There was a significant improvement in Broome County’s ranking for health behaviors, going from 49 down to 35. The behaviors that were measured include tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol and drug use and sexual activity.  Many of these behaviors are risk factors for chronic diseases, which are attributable to 7 out of 10 deaths in Broome County, and most importantly preventable.  

The Rankings rely on a robust set of data and analysis that allows counties to see what is making residents healthy or sick and how counties compared to others within the state. The Rankings examine dozens of factors that influence health including (but not limited to) rates of premature death, smoking, obesity levels, childhood poverty, access to healthy foods, levels of physical activities and rates of high school graduation and college attendance. This year the rankings took a detailed look into race and ethnicity, and childhood poverty as it relates to health equity and health outcomes. Broome County experiences a high rate of childhood poverty at 24%, while NYS is at 21%. This can be a significant indicator of future health status. 

“The variety and amount of data used in these Rankings is a reminder that good health is simply not just good medical care”, said Dr. Christopher Ryan, Medical Director, “There are factors called social determinants of health, which include housing, education, jobs and more, a community can do something about these factors to improve health outcomes.”  “We must remember, these changes can take time, and small successes can yield big results.”