Community Stories

Health improvement efforts from around the country

Health Department Engages Its Neighbors to Improve Health

In Atlanta, one of the many places staff at the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness looked to improve health was in their own backyard. For years, a group of older, vagrant men loitered in an empty lot near the health department, but were completely disconnected from it and the services it offered especially for this vulnerable population—such as health screenings, smoking cessation assistance, and drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Juneau County’s Health Rankings Offer Opportunity to Improve

Juneau County, a small rural county in the southern part of Wisconsin, ranked either last or near the bottom in a series of health check-ups issued by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute (UWPHI). Juneau County Health Director Barbara Theis wasn’t happy about the poor scores but over time she began to see the report as an opportunity to improve the county’s performance.

Part II: Moving Into Action in Clare County/Central Michigan

As a result of the 2010 Public Health Summit, the Central Michigan District Health Department created the Together We Can Health Improvement Council , which brings together stakeholders from across the region from human service agencies, media, local government, K-12 education, colleges and universities, and hospital systems. Working groups were also created within each county in the region.

Never Giving Up: Addressing Drug Addiction in Scott County, Indiana

What would you do if the county you’d lived in and loved for many decades was ranked the least healthy county in your state for three years running? What if just days after this year’s Rankings release Reuter News Service began investigating why your county has the highest rate of prescription drug deaths in a six county area? This is the situation faced by the people of Scott County, Indiana. It would be understandable if their response was to give up in frustration, but that’s far from the reality.

Working Together Creatively to Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

Twenty years ago George Sedlacek, the Director of Community Health in Marquette County, MI, was lambasted in the local news as a “health Nazi.” Now retired but still active as a community leader, he’s being hailed as a “health hero.” What accounts for the transformation? Sedlacek will tell you he didn’t change; the community’s culture changed.

In San Bernardino, CA, County Health Department Takes Lead to Improve Area’s Poor Health Ranking

The 2011 County Health Rankings ranked San Bernardino County—which spans more than 20,000 square miles and a population of more than 2 million—50th out of 56 California counties in health factors like physical environment, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care. The city of San Bernardino alone faces significant public health challenges, with a lower life expectancy, a higher homicide rate, and fewer parks and healthy food options than the rest of the state.

Fostering a Culture of Health and Wellness in Hernando, Miss.

The 2011 County Health Rankings classified Desoto County as the healthiest county in Mississippi for health outcomes and the fifth-healthiest county for health factors, with lower unemployment rates, higher education rates and greater access to healthy food compared to the rest of the state.

Detroit, MI: Joy-Southfield Neighborhood Unites to Tackle Chronic Disease, Poverty and Other Barriers to Health

Detroit, MI, is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, with high crime, poverty and unemployment; poor public transportation; and vast food deserts that prevent residents from easily accessing healthy foods. In 2011, the County Health Rankings ranked Wayne County—where Detroit is located—81 out of 82 counties in Michigan for health outcomes and dead last for health factors.

Learn From Other Communities in Action

See how communities are using policies, programs, and system changes to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play.

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