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Whitley County celebrates ranking as Indiana’s 7th most healthy county

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

A look at the parking lot of the local Whitley County Family YMCA may speak volumes about the interest and commitment to health in Whitley County. Or just look at the work going on to build a new center of health excellence in the community on the new Parkview Whitley Hospital campus.

This concern for health was confirmed today as the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released their report on healthy communities.

Of the 92 counties in Indiana, Whitley County ranked 7th in the state’s most healthy counties — putting it among the highest ranking counties in northeast Indiana. Only Lagrange County came out with an even heathier composite population.

The study took into account a variety of factors including premature death, population health conditions, smoking adults, teen pregnancies, health behaviors, binge drinking, clinical health care, inadequate social support, unemployment, poverty, air pollution, homicide rates, college degrees and more.

Whitley County is significantly more healthy than surrounding counties. Kosciusko came in 23rd, Huntington was 29th, Allen was 33rd, Noble was 37th and Wabash was 49th. The healthiest county in Indiana was determined to be Hancock County.

Alan Tio, president of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation, was pleased with the news. “I think the ranking confirms that Whitley County is a healthy, vibrant community in which residents have invested both in themselves and in health and social services that are attractive to businesses and families wanting to relocate,” Tio said.

“The hospital, libraries, parks, trails, YMCA, and other amenities all create a healthy “quality of place” that supports a productive workforce,” Tio said. “Thanks to all the individuals and organizations that are involved in these efforts.”

“This snapshot view gives us feedback that we’re on the right track to improve the health outcomes and quality of life in Whitley County for all citizens,” said Parkview Whitley Hospital chief operations officer John Meister.

“Health outcomes are a function of many different factors including behavior, clinical care, along with social economic factors and our physical environment,” Meister said. “We’re encouraged by the results. This gives us feedback for us to to futher assess needs and reprioritize how to focus where we can even improve,”

Like Tio, Meister agrees that many groups and organizations are involved in improving the health of a community.

“This is a collaborative, team effort,” Meister continued. “We look forward to continuing to work with other organizations to take positive action together to improve the health of people we all serve and make Whitley County the special place it is and even more of a destination site.

Source: Talk of the Town