Olentangy Valley News

Report: Delaware County residents among state's healthiest

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Residents of Delaware County are among the healthiest people in Ohio, according to a report released last week.

According to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, released March 26, Delaware County ranked third out of Ohio's 88 counties in terms of health outcomes -- defined by the report as measurements of the length and quality of residents' lives.

Geauga County, located just east of Cleveland, ranked first in health outcomes in the state. Scioto County in southern Ohio ranked last.

Delaware County ranked first in health factors, which measure rates of behaviors such as smoking and inactivity, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the county's environment.

Shelia Hiddleson, commissioner of the Delaware General Health District, said the report reinforces the county's reputation as a healthful place to live and raise a family.

"Of course we're very glad for our county," she said. "We know (the healthful environment) is one of the draws of Delaware County."

The report is released annually by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Delaware County achieved the same ranks in the health outcomes and health factors categories in last year's report.

Hiddleson noted the district had programs for almost all of the health behaviors studied in the health factors category, from obesity to excessive drinking. The exceptions, she said, were teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

"It's validating that (regarding) the things we are actually working on ... we're seeing some success in those programs," she said.

Hiddleson said those programs often are supported by discretionary funds provided by the district's operating levy. Funding from grants, the state or inspection fees often are tied to specific purposes.

Voters will decide on whether to renew the district's 0.7-mill levy on the May 6 ballot.

Hiddleson said the health district shares the credit for the ranking with the county's governments, nonprofit agencies, other groups and the individual residents who make healthy choices.

She said the health district continues to take steps to ensure it remains on the cutting edge of public health.

The district became just the fourth in the state and the 31st nationwide to receive accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board earlier this month. To receive the accreditation, the district had to meet multiple peer-reviewed quality standards.

Hiddleson said the county's place at the top of the pack in regards to health factors eventually should improve its position in the health outcomes category. If county residents continue to smoke and drink at low rates, for example, the county should see fewer early deaths.

"In the long run, the things we're doing today should begin to affect those health outcomes in the years to come," she said.

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