Project updates, commentaries, events and news about health across the nation from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

Rankings release can be a wake-up call for counties

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Next month our 2016 Rankings will be released, giving counties across the country updated pictures of their community health. What do communities do with this news? Some, such as Laramie County, Wyoming, and Oxford County, Maine, are using Rankings data to create a Culture of Health for everyone in their community. Data can serve as a wake-up call for counties when it comes to living longer and healthier lives.

In 2011, Oxford County was ranked at the bottom of Maine’s counties. When the Rankings were shared at a community forum, they had a galvanizing effect on the group.

“It was both shocking and disappointing,” said Jim Douglas, the Partnership Director at Healthy Oxford Hills. “It was galvanizing because we have a lot of positive things happening, but there were also many things we needed to do something about it. This is where the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative was formed.”

The Oxford County Wellness Collaborative is a network that’s designed to manage partner relationships. They have continued to build a community engagement model and have generated local leadership to cultivate health for everyone in Oxford County.

“Each year, people were watching the Rankings, it became a benchmark for our organization and it kept us invested in what we were doing. We were excited to see that the collaboration was helping the community,” Douglas said.

Laramie County is another example of a county that has used the County Health Rankings to spark a conversation about health. As one of Wyoming’s largest counties, Laramie has many of the state’s resources; as such, many were shocked to see that Laramie County ranked in the bottom half of the state.

“I think a lot of people thought, how could they be that far down the list when everything is here,” said Josh Hannes, the Healthier Laramie County Community Partnership's Executive Director and the Director of Wyoming Institute of Population Health. “The last couple of years the Rankings have come out, we look at the Rankings and see where we stand and measures we want to improve. Laramie County’s goal is to be in the top five counties by 2025.”

Join us here on March 16 to see your county’s updated Snapshot, and get involved in improving your community’s health through some of the resources available on our website: