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The Dansville Online
  • Livingston County named healthiest in New York

  • Livingston County was named the healthiest of New York State's 62 counties in the 2013 County Health Rankings released Wednesday. Steuben County earned its highest rank of 44 in the study's four-year history, according to Beverly Butts, Steuben's Public Health education coordinator. Allegany County&#...
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  • Livingston County was named the healthiest of New York State's 62 counties in the 2013 County Health Rankings released Wednesday.
    Steuben County earned its highest rank of 44 in the study's four-year history, according to Beverly Butts, Steuben's Public Health education coordinator.
    Allegany County's rankings have been on the rise since 2010 as well, and made its largest jump this year from 48th in 2012 to 20th in 2013.
    Rankings are determined based on a number of factors, including a mortality rank, which measures premature death; and a health behaviors rank, which studies how many residents smoke, drink, are obese, or have sexually transmitted infections, among others.
    Other factors the study takes into account are availability of clinical care and insurance; social and economic factors, such as education and poverty levels; and the quality of each county's physical environment.
    Livingston County's number one spot results from high rankings in several areas. The county ranks 6th in the state for fewest premature deaths.
    Livingston is 11th in the state for the health behaviors category, meaning factors like smoking, obesity and teen birth rates are relatively low compared to other counties.
    The study states that 11 percent of the population under age 65 is uninsured.
    Ian Coyle, the county's administrator, attributes Livingston's first place finish to teamwork in the health care industry.
    "Livingston County is fortunate to have many collaborative partnerships and vital services which continue to improve the health of our community," he said.
    Steuben's rank of 44 is due in part to its relatively poor rankings in mortality and health behaviors. The county is 43rd in premature deaths, which implies that as a whole, residents die at younger ages than in other counties.
    The county's health behavior score is also quite different from that in Livingston County. The study places Steuben at 57th of 62 counties due to higher frequencies of obesity, sexually transmitted infections, and excessive drinking.
    According to the study, 31 percent of Steuben's population is obese, and has a higher concentration of chlamydia cases than Livingston or Allegany. Seventeen percent of the population take part in excessive drinking.
    Butts said she focuses most on the Health Behaviors category for Steuben County, and looks closely at factors such as smoking.
    She said 28 percent of adults in Steuben smoke, according to the ranking study. The percentage greatly surpasses the statewide 18 percent, according to Butts.
    The Public Health agency will meet with its hospital partners and non-profit health and welfare agencies to analyze Steuben's rankings and form strategies to improve overall health in the area, according to Butts.
    "My question is, are we going to take care of the sick, or prevent the sickness? My focus is on prevention," she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Butts also mentioned the county, as a whole, may struggle to maintain preventative care. The study shows 13 percent of residents under age 65 do not have insurance.
    Despite some lower rankings compared to other counties, Steuben's rank has risen nine places since last year, which Butts said is great news for the county health department.
    "We are gratified to see that our county's rank has improved," she said.
    In the past four years, Steuben has ranked 48, 52, and 53 out of 62.
    Steuben will also study results from Livingston and Allegany Counties to look for ways to improve, according to Butts.
    Allegany County's 20th place rank includes 18th place in the state for premature death, 25 places ahead of Steuben. Allegany also ranked better than Steuben in the health behaviors category, coming in 45th in the state.
    Health behaviors like adult smoking and obesity in Allegany County also fall in between Livingston and Steuben's statistics. The study shows 21 percent of adults in the county smoke and 29 percent are considered obese.
    Allegany does have a lower frequency of sexually transmitted infections than Steuben or Livingston, with 129 cases of chlamydia, compared to Livingston's 185 and Steuben's 208.
    According to the study, 12 percent of Allegany County residents under 65 are uninsured.
    The County Health Rankings are compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. CountyHealthRankings.org provides health statistics and rankings for each county in the United States.
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