How healthy is your county?

    A new Web site lets you check out the health of the county where you live. WHYY reports on the new health rankings for our region.

    A new web site, countyhealthrankings.org lets you check out the health of the county where you live. WHYY reports on the new health rankings for our region.

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    In New Jersey, Camden County places 19th among 21 counties while Hunterdon tops the list as the healthiest place to live.

    Jeffrey Brenner directs the Institute for Urban Health at Cooper University Hospital. He says a community’s health status often reflects its level of poverty, so the rankings are of little surprise.

    The Web site’s creators want policy makers to use the information to design programs that lead to better health. Dr. Brenner is a family physician in Camden. He doesn’t think the rankings will be much help for front-line care givers.

    Brenner: County level data often blends data from many different communities together and improving health is going to take data that goes down to the block level, neighborhood level and building level.

    To create the county rankings, researchers from the University of Wisconsin complied a list of health indicators including smoking and binge drinking rates to take snapshots of every county in the United States.

    In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia County was last on the list. In Delaware, New Castle, Sussex and Kent counties placed one, two and three.

    Brenner says policy makers need to drill down even further.

    His team uses hospital claims information to figure out which neighborhoods have high rates of youth violence. He can even tell which apartment buildings house residents who end up in the emergency room frequently.

    Brenner: So that data is powerful because you can target community health programs and clinical interventions to those neighborhoods and you can measure the impact of those interventions before and after.

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