For the second year in a row, Valley County has been ranked the healthiest county in Idaho in the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Report.
Blaine and Ada counties were second and third, respectively. St. Luke’s supports the health and well-being of residents in all three counties through direct care, community partnerships and a variety of education, events and programs.
Rankings for other Idaho counties served by St. Luke’s are as follows: Elmore, 15; Twin Falls, 19; Adams, 20; Canyon, 21; and Jerome, 35.
The County Health Rankings, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, measure the health of more than 3,100 counties in the nation and rank them within each state. The rankings include quality of life, economic and social factors, personal health behaviors and environmental health.
The study looks at more than 30 factors that influence health, including high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, clean air, rates of smoking and obesity.
Every three years, St. Luke’s conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment for each of the communities where the organization has a medical center. The County Health Rankings report is one set of measurements that factors into the resultant three-year implementation plan.
The rankings reveal Valley, Blaine and Ada counties took the top three spots when it comes to health outcomes, health factors and health behaviors.
The length-of-life measure is one of the most important factors in determining the rankings. All three counties were ranked as top performers in the nation, with results in the 90th percentile; Valley County was the top-ranked county in the nation.
All three counties were in the top 10 for clinical care factors, and Valley and Ada counties led in the top two spots. Measures include uninsured rates, access to primary care physicians, mental health providers and preventable hospital stays.
The clinical care measures for those counties in which St. Luke’s plays a role have been trending in a positive direction over the past several years.
Reducing preventable hospital stays are a key component to controlling healthcare costs. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines preventable hospital stays as admissions to a hospital for certain acute illnesses or worsening chronic conditions that might not have required hospitalization had these conditions been managed successfully by primary care providers in outpatient settings.
According to the Atlas of Health Care study, used in the County Rankings report, preventable hospital stays in Idaho and its top three counties are following the national downward trend. From 2006 to 2014 Valley County’s rate per 1,000 residents has dropped from 43 preventable hospitalizations to 16. Blaine County dropped from 42 preventable hospitalizations to 23, and Ada County dropped from 40 preventable hospitalizations to 24 in the same time period.
This positive trend was reflected in all the counties in which St. Luke’s has a medical center. Canyon Country dropped from 47 preventable hospitalizations to 27, Twin Falls from 50 preventable hospitalizations to 30, Jerome 59 preventable hospitalizations to 39 and Elmore, 67 preventable hospitalizations to 40.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation encourages communities to use the rankings to help identify issues and opportunities for local health improvement and to garner support for initiatives among government agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, business leaders, policy-makers and the public.“While these rankings indicate we are doing great in a spectrum of health categories, there is much room for improvement,” said Lyle Nelson of St. Luke’s McCall community relations and health promotion director. “St. Luke’s, in collaboration with our schools, local government, and non-profit community partners continues to build a culture of health.”
Laura Crawford works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.