by Daniel Stapleton
Public Health Director
Niagara County Department of Health
Niagara County ranked 57th in health outcomes this year, according to the Niagara County Health Rankings Project.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, the project helps the Niagara County Department of Health to identify factors that are making it difficult for residents to maintain healthy lifestyles. It also compares the county to others in the state, providing insight to residents on ways to continue to improve their health.
Now in its second year, the document shows a slight improvement over the 2010 rankings. The report illuminates improvements in certain health factors such as healthy behaviors, social and economic factors and the physical environment. However, the report identifies a decline in the access and quality of clinical care factor. The document highlights the health issues of which we are already aware, and are taking steps to address. For example, we can have a positive public health impact by linking people to preventive services such as cancer screening (mammography, colorectal and cervical), diabetic screening, and immunizations.
The rankings give us information we can use to engage community leaders to take action to implement programs and policy changes that improve health in Niagara County. We can improve our health outcomes by strengthening our existing partnerships with our schools, providers, hospitals, businesses, Niagara County departments, government officials, and our colleagues from state and local governments.
Where we live, work and play affects our overall health and quality of life. Equally important, are the choices we make and lifestyles we adopt. Everyone in our community has a stake in being healthy; eat and drink in moderation, make healthy food choices, exercise regularly, avoid high-risk behaviors and do not smoke. Access to healthy foods and clinical care are also important factors in determining health outcomes, as outlined in the report. Unfortunately, some of the critical health decisions people make are often driven by the state of their economic health, and their access to insurance and health providers.
Knowledge is a powerful tool. To access the County Rankings Report, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org. Working together, we can make Niagara County a healthier place to live, learn, work and play.