The University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute has just released it’s 2015 report on the rankings of each county in the US on the basis of several health factors and results. Looking at New York State’s counties, we find Monroe County smack-dab in the middle of the pack, with a “health outcome” ranking of 38 out of 62 counties. Other local counties like Wayne and Genesee followed suit, ranking 39 and 40 respectively.

A heat map of health by county.

A heat map of health by county.

This outcomes ranking is based on a number of quality-of-life factors such as sick days and overall length of lives within the county. According to the report, Monroe County health is dragged down by two major issues: low birth weight babies and the reported overall healthiness of individuals living in the county. The study shows 8.4% of babies born in Monroe are underweight and that 17% of respondents report bad health.

Interestingly, our southern rural neighbors fared much better in this study. Ontario and Livingston Counties ranked in the top 10 healthiest counties with Livingston topping the charts for best quality-of-life. The deciding factor for Livingston County’s high ranking appears to have been a lot less reported sick days and mental health days, though across the board, they appear to beat the NYS average in every rating category.

It’s worth noting that reported numbers are not as accurate as tabulated ones. For a start, people don’t necessarily remember exact numbers and may therefore misreport the number of sick days they’ve taken. Additionally, my experience is that people in rural areas tend not to under-value mental health as a legitimate reason to take a day off work. That may skew the numbers a bit as well.

Dark numbers for Monroe:

Even if Monroe County out performs a lot of other counties – including neighboring Orleans County, which looks like it could use a stern talking too – some of the numbers are just depressing. Monroe absolutely dwarfs other local counties for sexually transmitted disease infections, which is no surprise. Not unrelated, Monroe County also has among the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state, except for some especially hard-bitten downstate counties.

Here’s a cross-tab view of Monroe County health, along with other local counties – you can add other counties to the comparison of you want. Lots of excellent reading, here.