The second annual report ranking the health of Indiana counties, released today, lists Putnam County as the 11th healthiest county in the state.
The County Health Rankings rate overall health for every county in all 50 states -- more than 3,000 total -- by using a standard formula to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the results.
"The success of a community is often related to both the economic and the overall health of the population," State Health Commissioner and former Greencastle physician Gregory Larkin, M.D., said in response to the rankings.
In rating 11th overall, Putnam County ranked 13th in both health factors and health behaviors, 24th in physical environment, 46th in social and economic factors and 63rd in clinical care.
Among some of the more interesting figures, Putnam County recorded:
-- A 28 percent adult obesity rate (27 percent is the state average).
-- A 26 percent adult smoking rate (exactly the state norm).
-- A 10 percent binge-drinking rate (15 percent is the state average).
-- A 16 percent uninsured adult rate (14 percent is the state norm).
-- A 9 percent single-parent household rate (10percent is the state average).
-- A 22 percent access to healthy food rate (38 percent is the state norm).
-- A 76 percent high school graduation rate (73 percent is state average).
According to this year's rankings, the 10 healthiest counties in Indiana are Hamilton, Hendricks, Dubois, Boone, LaGrange, Warrick, Whitley, Marshall, DeKalb and Wells.
The 10 Hoosier counties in the poorest health are Crawford, Lake, Fayette, Perry, Sullivan, Pike, Martin, Switzerland, Starke and Scott.
Among Putnam County's neighbors, Hendricks fared the best at No. 2 healthiest, while Morgan was 40th, Montgomery ranked 52nd, Owen 58th, Clay 68th and Parke 73rd overall.
"These are not just issues for local health departments and the medical community," Dr. Larkin said. "We know that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor's office, like our levels of education and income, our access to healthier, more nutritious foods, and our access to smoke-free air to breathe. What the health outcomes and health factors measured in this report show us is the only way to make a real impact in the public's health is to engage the entire system."
Dr. Larkin said statewide initiatives in Indiana have taken this kind of system-wide approach to address public health issues.
One is INShape Indiana, which Gov. Mitch Daniels launched in 2005 to challenge all Hoosiers to eat better, move more and avoid tobacco. Another is the Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative that utilizes partnerships statewide to enhance the health and quality of life of Hoosiers by promoting good nutrition, regular physical activity and a healthy weight through policy, environment and lifestyle change.
"Community health improvement primarily occurs when all leaders work together to foster the improved health status of all the citizens," Dr. Larkin added. "When a community pulls together business leaders, health care systems, schools, non-profit organizations and local media outlets for the purpose of creating a more healthy and successful environment, all residents benefit."
Public health accreditation is a national program for state, local, territorial and tribal public health departments. The goal of the accreditation program is to improve and protect the health of every community by advancing the quality and performance of public health departments.
"I challenge all Indiana counties to take a system-wide approach to addressing specific health outcomes and health factors in their communities and to do so by applying the 10 public health essential services," Larkin added.
The 10 essential services of public health are:
1. Monitor health status to identify community health problems.
2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
3. Inform, educate and empower people about health issues.
4. Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems.
5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.
8. Assure a competent public health and personal healthcare workforce.
9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility and quality of personal and population-based health services.
10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.
Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or "health outcomes" for Indiana by county: The rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the number of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health and the rate of low-birth weight infants.
The report then looks 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 adult smoking, access to care, unemployment rate, adult obesity, teen birth rate, access to healthy foods and motor vehicle death rate. The County Health Rankings report can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
"The County Health Rankings are an important tool for local health departments as they prepare for national public health accreditation," Dr. Larkin said. "Health departments can use these data as part of the community health assessment and community health improvement plan, which are both required documents for public health accreditation."