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Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Snohomish County is Third Healthiest     Print 

Snohomish County is Third Healthiest

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – According to the ninth annual County Health Rankings, Snohomish County is ranked the third healthiest county overall in the state. The rankings released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute are designed to be used as a snapshot of health indicators. These indicators include social and environmental factors, as well as health behaviors, to develop a comparison with other counties in the state and nationally.

According to the 2018 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Washington, starting with most healthy, are San Juan County, followed by King County, Snohomish County, Island County, and Jefferson County. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Ferry County, Pend Oreille County, Columbia County, Pacific County, and Grays Harbor County.

Snohomish County was ranked the best in the state for social and economic factors, including the measure of children in poverty. Poverty limits opportunity and increases the chance of poor health, even in children. Snohomish County is one of the top performers in the country on this measure, with nine percent of children in poverty, compared to the state rate of 14 percent and the national rate of 20 percent.

Some other areas where Snohomish County scored well include:
• Percent of adults reporting fair or poor health (12%)
• Injury deaths per 100,000 people (58)
• Child mortality rate per 100,000 people (30)
• Adults reporting 14+ days of poor physical health in a month (9%)
• Adults reporting 14+ days of poor mental health in a month (10%)
• Firearm fatalities per 100,000 people (8)

There were also several indicators where Snohomish County is performing better than most counties in Washington, but falls considerably short of where top performers are in the nation. For instance, one measure focused on residential segregation between county residents, where the index ranges from 0 (complete integration) to 100 (complete segregation). When looking at where people reside in the county, the index for Snohomish County segregation for black and white residents was 52 compared to 23 among top performers.

Other examples where Snohomish County scored lower than top performers nationally include:
• Mammography screening, as a percentage of female Medicare enrollees ages 67-69 that receive screening (55% compared to 71% for top performers)
• Percent of driving deaths with alcohol involvement (31% compared to 13% for top performers)
• Violent crimes reported per 100,000 people (a rate of 91, compared to 62 for top performers)
• Drug overdose deaths for rates per 100,000 (a rate of 17, compared to 10 for top performers)
• Insufficient sleep (35% compared to 27% for top performers)

While the county generally ranked toward the top in most categories, Snohomish County was ranked as the worst in the state when evaluating environmental health measures. Snohomish County scored poorly in the measure of solo commuters with a commute of more than 30 minutes (45 percent). This was three times the rate of the top performing counties in the nation. When looking at daily density of particulate matter, Snohomish County was at 9.1 micrograms per cubic meter, with the top counties in the nation at 6.7 micrograms per cubic meter. This means county residents have a slightly higher exposure to outdoor airborne pollution.

These rankings serve as a good snapshot on some comparable indicators, however, the Snohomish Health District’s role as a chief health strategist means continuing to evaluate more measures at a local level. A community health assessment—completed in 2013 and update in 2016—is currently underway, and expected to be released in late-2018. This assessment then helps inform a new community health improvement plan, targeted for 2019.

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