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Will County Ranks Among Illinois' Healthiest Counties

Will County was ranked 25 out of 102 counties.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
A grant-funded study released Wednesday ranks Will County among Illinois' healthiest counties for the fifth year in a row.

The study, called Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH), uses data sets collected from numerous sources to rank the health of each Illinois county. The University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute authored the MATCH project with the help of funding provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to MATCH, Will County ranks 25th among 102 Illinois counties surveyed in terms of health outcomes, and 25th in health factors.

The health outcomes ranking is based on an equal weighting of morbidity and mortality measures that influence the length and quality of life. The health factors ranking is derived from an examination of numerous health behaviors, access to clinical care, the quality of clinical care and physical environment. Social and economic factors were also considered.

“The MATCH project provides us with a valuable point in time snapshot of Will County’s overall health,” Will County Health Department Executive Director John Cicero said in a release issued Wednesday. “It illustrates that community health is shaped by a wide variety of factors beyond what occurs at our doctor’s office, hospital, or health clinic. Everyone plays a role in community health: educators, business leaders, hospitals, the faith community, elected officials – everyone has some key role to play in order to make the community a healthy place to live and work.”

Will is one of seven Chicagoland counties listed among the state’s healthiest jurisdictions. Cicero says public health administrators can utilize data from the health rankings to identify problems and address the most critical health priorities using measurable objectives.

“Every community can point to specific strengths and weaknesses that ultimately influence health,” Cicero said. “The information contained in studies of this magnitude can help shape the formation of community partnerships that develop strategies capable of addressing priority health objectives.”

The release of the 2014 MATCH study was timed to coincide with National Public Health Week (NPHW).

Since 1995, the public health community has celebrated NPHW during the first week each April to draw attention to the need for enhanced public health awareness and funding.

“We hope NPHW helps educate area residents about ways they can all live healthier lives, prevent illness, and navigate the ever-changing world of public health,” Cicero added. “We can all take simple steps to avoid preventable illness and live healthier.”

NPHW 2014 helps to focus attention on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The new Affordable Care Act  takes two U.S. health systems — public health and health care — and brings them together like never before. The enactment of the ACA signals a shift in the nation’s health system from one that focuses on treatment of the sick to one committed to proactively keeping people in their communities healthy and safe.

“Healthy lives begin with prevention,” Cicero said. “Even small changes we make today can have a big impact on our health for the rest of our lives.”

Click here for more information on MATCH.

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