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Ottawa County earns high health marks on statewide scorecard

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A new study measuring local health outcomes puts Ottawa County at the top of the list.

The 2015 County Health Rankings report for Michigan placed Ottawa at number one in overall health outcomes, and number two in health factors.

Kristina Wieghmink is the county health department's public information officer. 

She says Ottawa has received similarly high marks in the past years - and notes community buy-in and extra steps, such as a recently-completed Community Health Improvement Plan, as reasons behind successful outcomes.

"Here in Ottawa County it’s very unique that we are doing this," Wieghmink says. "Hospitals are required every three years -  it’s a federal mandate - to conduct an assessment, working with public health (offices) and other community organizations."

"It’s not required, necessarily, to do a CHIP. And not all regions do so, or have the opportunity to do so.”

Wieghmink says three primary areas of interest came out of that study: access to healthcare, physical health and mental health.

"And for mental health, that priority health area: data shows that in Ottawa County, one in four adults 18-24 years of age experience mild to severe psychological distress," she says. "So we do have mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, that really need to be looked at and addressed here."

For health outcomes, Kent County received an overall ranking of 17 of the 83 state counties. Allegan was indexed at 13, and Muskegon's ranking is 65.

The national County Health Rankings index is produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

It uses local, state and federal data to look at health behaviors, clinical care, physical environment and social and economic factors affecting length and quality of life - as well as local policies and programs.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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