Health rankings shed light on pluses, minuses for Walla Walla County

Walla Walla County enjoys a high ranking in health factors, but is partly undermined in state rankings by social and economic factors.

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Walla Walla County gets an "A" for health factors, and a "B" for health outcomes according to the County Health Rankings report recently released by the state Department of Health. San Juan County is ranked as the "healthiest" community, where it is easier for people to lead healthy lifestyle and live beyond 75 years. Ranked 39, Ferry County is the least healthy county in the state, where people face more risks in regard to their health.

The 39 counties in Washington are ranked according to the summary measures of health outcomes that include the length and quality of life, and a list of health factors that represent what influences the health of the county: behavioral (such as tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use, unsafe sex), clinical (access and quality of care), social and economic factors (education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety), and physical environment (environmental quality and built environment).

Walla Walla occupies the fifth rank for health factors, preceded by San Juan, King, Whatcom and Kittitas. Walla Walla has among of the best clinical care services in the state, according to the report. Only the residents of King and Cowlitz counties can rely on more accessible and better quality health care.

However, social and economic factors bring Walla Walla down the list, reflecting the significant presence of poverty and job instability in the county. According to the Health outcomes rankings, Walla Walla is ranked 19, reflecting average mortality and morbidity rates together with counties like Jefferson, Thurston, Benton, Franklin and Skagit.

Dena Popova can be reached at denapopova@wwub.com.

Read the report

The full County Health Rankings report can be read at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

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