Most of SE Minnesota fares well in state health report

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Southeast Minnesota is one of the healthiest regions in the state, according to a national County Health Report released Wednesday by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Not surprisingly, Olmsted County — home of the Mayo Clinic — is rated tops among Minnesota's 87 counties in "health factors," one of two lists in the study.

Eight of 10 local counties fall within the state's top 30 on the health factors list. Wabasha and Houston counties were listed at No. 6 and No. 9, respectively. Mower and Freeborn counties are outliers, ranking No. 70 and No. 76.

"The rankings remind us that we live in communities, and that if our community is healthy, we're more likely to be healthy ourselves," saidMinnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

Olmsted County, which includes Rochester, is highly rated in all four major categories of the study's health factors breakdown. Thanks largely to the Mayo Clinic, it claimed the top spot in clinical care. The county also was rated No. 3 in health behaviors, No. 10 in social and economic factors and No. 17 in physical environment.


However, Olmsted County is only ranked No. 17 in the health outcomes portion of the study. It came in No. 12 in quality of life and No. 25 for length of life, which factors in premature death.

Pete Giesen, director for Olmsted County Public Health Services, called the data "reassuring" while noting the county is in the midst of developing a multiyear community health improvement plan in coordination with Mayo Clinic and others.

"We live in a great county that is overall very healthy, but there are always small pockets that we need to work on," Giesen said.

The five main priorities pinpointed by a 2013 needs assessment include: obesity, mental health, financial stress/homelessness, diabetes and vaccinations/preventable diseases.

Though Wabasha and Houston counties are in the top 10 for overall health, those numbers tumble in the health outcome portion of the study. Wabasha is rated No. 45, and Houston is only slightly better at No. 40.

While Mower County was near the bottom in overall rank — including No. 73 in clinical care — it came in No. 35 in health outcomes.

Freeborn County ranked lowest in social and economic factors at No. 74, and it didn't fare much better in the health outcomes portion of the study. It ranked No. 61 overall, including 83rd in quality of life.


Health factors:

1. Olmsted

6. Wabasha

9. Houston

14. Steele

17. Winona

22. Dodge

24. Goodhue


30. Fillmore

70. Mower

76. Freeborn

Health outcomes:

4. Steele

10. Dodge

12. Fillmore

17. Olmsted

18. Winona

35. Mower

40. Houston

43. Goodhue

45. Wabasha

61. Freeborn

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