Survey says: Nevada County healthier than most of state
February 23, 2010
GRASS VALLEY, Nev. and#8212; Nevada County residents have good educations and healthy habits, putting them in the top quarter of California counties in a recent statewide health survey.
Nevada County was ranked 14th overall out of 56 counties statewide (Alpine and Sierra counties were not included) in the first County Health Rankings survey, released Feb. 17 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The results show Nevada County residents enjoy a healthy lifestyle, with fewer smokers, a lower rate of teen pregnancy and a significantly higher rate of high school graduates than most of the state.
and#8220;Overall, we’re pleased with the results,and#8221; said Dr. Karen Milman, health officer and director of the Nevada County Public Health Department. and#8220;Nothing in the report really surprised us, but it was helpful to compare against our neighboring counties so we could look at what they are doing.and#8221;
The report based its overall rankings on and#8220;healthy outcomes,and#8221; which was considered a measure of overall health. It included the rate of people dying before age 75; the percent of people who reported being in fair or poor health; the number of days per month people reported being in poor physical and mental health; and the rate of infants with low birth weight.
Within the overall rankings, the report broke out a subset of health factors; on those, Nevada County ranked fifth in the state. That ranking weighed health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and the physical environment.
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An educated populace is one key to Nevada County’s high rank in the health factors and the overall healthy score: More than 90 percent of residents have high school degrees, compared with 69 percent statewide.
and#8220;I would highlight that as very important to us,and#8221; Milman said. and#8220;Studies show a higher rate of education, especially for females, equates to a healthier community.and#8221;
That high score on health factors was despite Nevada County’s scoring poorly for physical environment, ranking 33rd in the state because of the 42 average air-pollution days, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
On the overall score, Nevada County lagged behind Placer County, which scored 6th.
The difference can be attributed partially to the means of data collection, Milman said. Some of the ranking criteria depended on the number of people participating in certain social programs. Nevada County has a smaller population, with a smaller sample group from which to glean results.
The University of Wisconsin, which conducted the survey, took into account only Medicare patients when assessing each county’s clinical care, though that may have worked in Nevada County’s favor for the survey, Milman said.
and#8220;The results (in the survey) are probably better than you see in the total population,and#8221; Milman said. She indicated a number of county residents who are not covered by Medicare probably do not see doctors as often as they should, and as a result, are often more ill when they do make it to a doctor’s office.