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St. Croix County among state's healthiest

St. Croix County is a pretty healthy place to live.

That's according to the annual County Health Rankings report released last week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Of the state's 72 counties, St. Croix ranked No. 2 in terms of healthy places. The local county trailed only Ozaukee County in the state's "health outcomes" rankings.

Laurie Diaby, public information officer with St. Croix Public Health, said the report was welcome news for those who strive to improve the health of local residents.

"It always feels good to be on the top of the rankings rather than the bottom," she said. "But we can't look at the ranking and say we're all done, that we don't have more work to do. There are always things we can do to serve our citizens better."

The release of the report comes at the perfect time for St. Croix County, Diaby said. The strengths and weaknesses identified in the UW report appear to match the recently released "St. Croix County Community Health Improvement Plan 2009-14," a five-year program aimed at improving the overall health of all citizens in the county.

She said the similarity in both reports will help the county focus its attention on areas where public health efforts are lacking.

The overall health ranking is based on 30 measurements of health. Measurements like the lack of health insurance, smoking rates, high school graduation rates, binge drinking rates, teen pregnancy rates and air quality all play a part in the ranking system.

St. Croix County was among the state's leaders in mortality and mental health (health outcomes), but was ranked lower in such areas as access to care, diet and exercise, tobacco use, alcohol use and access to healthy foods (health factors). St. Croix County was ranked eighth in the state when considering health factors.

For the full story, see the Feb. 25 print edition of the Hudson Star-Observer.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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