Thurston County ranks ninth out of the state’s 39 counties in community health, according to a report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
The report compared all of the state’s counties, looking at overall community health factors such as education, income levels, access to healthful food, medical care and life expectancy.
“Those things really do have a profound influence on the health of the community,” said Chris Hawkins of the county’s Public Health and Social Services Department.
Thurston County’s ranking of ninth was an improvement from last year’s ranking of 14th.
Kittitas County ranked first, followed by San Juan, Whitman, Island, Watcom, King, Jefferson and Chelan counties.
Thurston County ranked 12th in 2010 and 13th in 2011.
“Moving up from 14th to ninth in this ranking is the direction we want to go,” Karen Valenzuela, county health board chairwoman and county commissioner, said in a news release. “It shows we’re working hard in Thurston County to make this a happy and healthy community.
“But we could do better. We should work to be number one.”
The county has plans to try to achieve that through a new program, Thurston Thrives.
A Thurston Thrives Advisory Council will be selected April 9 to work with the county board of health to focus on health behavior, environment, health services, and social and economic conditions.
“We are trying to broaden that view to help the community move forward along these wide array of factors,” Hawkins said. “We recognize we don’t want to be resting on that and seeing ourselves as good enough because there is improvement we can make, moving us from that good state to even better.”
For more information on the report, go to countyhealthranking.org.
Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 email@example.com theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer