The annual assessment of county health rankings was recently released and contains some alarming information for Thurston County residents and decision makers.
The county rankings compare the health of nearly all of the 3,000 counties in the United States to others within its own state, and supports coalitions tackling the myriad social, economic and environmental influences on health. The annual rankings provide a snapshot of how health is influences by where we live, learn, work and play. The program is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to measure the progress of building a culture of health.
While Thurston County as a whole ranks high across Washington State, coming in 7th place out of 38 counties, in terms of markers about physical environment Thurston is almost at the bottom of the ranking scale coming in 30th out of the same 38 counties. The adverse conditions included in the physical environment ranking include: a trend in increases in severe housing problems (percentage of households with at least 1 of 4 housing problems: overcrowding, high housing costs, or lack of kitchen or plumbing facilities) as well as a large number of people travelling alone to work (79%) and those enduring a long commute (30%).
Additional surprising trends in Thurston County include increases in child poverty, sexually transmitted infections and adult obesity.
At United Way of Thurston County, we know that over 30% of Thurston County families are struggling to meet basic needs. Our 2016 ALICE report indicated that among the top three challenges for families are transportation, housing and childcare. Learn more about the ALICE report here
On the flipside, the county health rankings indicated that recent successes in Thurston County include decreases in preventable hospital stays, air pollution and alcohol impaired driving deaths. So, it's not all bad news. Rather, these county rankings are just more information to help us learn how to build a culture of health and mobilize the caring power of people to ensure everyone has health, education and financial stability in our community.
To learn more about the Thurston County national health rankings, click here.