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Tompkins County in Top Ten of Healthiest Counties in New York State

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Tompkins County in Top Ten of Healthiest Counties in New York State

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin today released county health rankings for most counties in the United States. Tompkins County ranked fourth in the ten healthiest counties in New York State. The rankings use a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. And the rankings help everyone to see how where they live, learn, work, and play influences their health and the health of their community.

Tompkins County ranked very high in such factors as education, access to healthy foods, and the physical environment - low pollution and access to recreational areas - and high educational levels - all contributing factors to good health. The uninsured adult population in Tompkins County however is 28% compared to 18% overall in New York State. This can probably be attributed to a variety of factors including employers who do not offer health insurance, employees who are unable to afford health insurance premiums, and people who are underemployed but make too much money to qualify for government programs such as Medicaid.

Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or "health outcomes" for New York by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low-birth weight infants.

The Rankings also look at factors that affect people's health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Among the many health factors they looked at: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended college, children in poverty; and community safety; access to healthy foods and air pollution levels.

"The County Health Rankings help everyone see that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor's office and where we live matters to our health," says Brenda Grinnell Crosby, Interim Public Health Director. Maintaining the health of the community is everyone's business, not just public health, she said. "It's up to schools, health care providers, community agencies, local government to work together to reduce obesity rates and increase the number of people who have health insurance, for example. And we can't rest on our laurels. We have to ensure that the programs and policies we have in place are sustained so that we continue to be in the 'top ten' in the years ahead."

Tompkins County Health Department intends to keep the community aware of these rankings to use as a guidepost in efforts to keep Tompkins County a healthy community. For detailed information on the rankings go to www.countyhealthrankings.org .