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Marion County ranks 49th in Florida in RWJF rankings

By Florida Department of Health in Marion County

March 14, 2018

OCALA, Fla.—Marion County ranked 49th out of Florida’s 67 counties for overall health outcomes in the newly released 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. RWJF determined this ranking based on Marion’s scores across a variety of areas: Marion ranked 50th in length of life, 40th in quality of life, 33rd in health behaviors, 18th in clinical care, 53rd in social and economic factors, and 45th in physical environment. An annual project from RWJF, this study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, such as information from www.FLHealthCHARTS.com.

“Whenever we look at data such as this, we are reminded of the larger health equity picture,” said Department of Health in Marion County Health Officer Mark Lander. “Many pieces fit together to create the snapshot of a community’s health, and it’s important that everyone is engaged and energized to partner together, identify potential paths of progress, and move our community forward.”

The department works in collaboration with local government, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Marion County. One way the department is focused on moving the community forward is through its partnership with the Marion County Hospital District to spearhead a Community Improvement Plan that tackles social determinants of health in addition to more conventional factors. Differentiated from a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), the Community Improvement Plan incorporates medical services, public health, job creation, transportation and enhanced levels of education (high school graduation/GED, college and trade skills). 

Marion County Hospital District Executive Director Curt Bromund noted the importance of addressing all facets of the challenges residents face when seeing the disparity between Marion’s clinical care rating (in the top 25 percent of Florida counties) versus its overall health and length of life rankings (in the bottom 30 percent of Florida counties).

“This data reveals that traditional healthcare services are not the primary drivers of our county’s low health rankings,” Bromund said. “Our health outcomes suffer from lifestyle categories, such as adult smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol-impaired driving deaths and teen births. Social determinants of health, such as income, education and unemployment, continue to negatively impact our overall health rankings.” The district’s public health projects are working to mitigate these challenges and are addressing mental health, opioid addiction, dental health, diabetes, obesity, smoking cessation, nutrition and physical activity.  

The department also works with the United Way of Marion County to address health issues on a larger scale.

“Although the Robert Wood Johnson rankings cannot be compared accurately year to year, they provide a good snapshot of where we stand as far as the health of Marion County residents,” said President and CEO of the United Way of Marion County Scot Quintel. “As an organization that fights for the health of everyone in Marion County, we look forward to using this information to guide our efforts to improve the health in our community.”

To explore more health indicators in your county, visit www.FLHealthCHARTS.com.