For the first time, Ada County has been ranked the healthiest county in Idaho in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Report.
Valley and Blaine 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: Twin Falls, 17; Elmore, 20; Canyon, 22; and Jerome, 31.
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 Ada, Valley and Blaine counties took the top three spots when it comes to health outcomes, health factors and health behaviors. They also were the top three for clinical care, which measures uninsured rates, access to primary care physicians, mental health providers and preventable hospital stays.
St. Luke’s Wood River and its partners in the community continue to work to address the health needs of the community, particularly around improving mental health, access to care and weight management and reducing preventable hospitalizations,” said Cody Langbehn, site administrator for St. Luke’s Wood River.
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 is key 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 the 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 all counties where St. Luke’s has a medical center are following the national downward trend.
From 2006 to 2015, Blaine County’s rate per 1,000 residents has dropped from 43 preventable hospitalizations to 15, Ada County dropped from 40 preventable hospitalizations to 22 and Valley County dropped from 42 preventable hospitalizations to 23.
This positive trend also was reflected in other counties in which St. Luke’s has medical centers. Canyon Country dropped from 47 preventable hospitalizations to 32, Twin Falls from 53 preventable hospitalizations to 32, Jerome 59 preventable hospitalizations to 32 and Elmore, 59 preventable hospitalizations to 32.
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 well in a spectrum of health categories, there is room for improvement,” said Lyle Nelson, 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.