SOMERVILLE, NJ - Somerset County has been ranked the third-healthiest county in New Jersey for the second year in a row in an annual nationwide survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“For the past seven years, Somerset County has been consistently ranked as one of the top three healthiest counties in New Jersey,” said Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer. “Although Somerset County is ranked third overall this year, when measuring for health factors based on weighted scores for health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and the physical environment, Somerset County comes in second.”
The Somerset County Department of Health balances the rankings with other sources of health data to help identify issues and opportunities for countywide health improvement. In addition, these data sets are used as inspiration for public health partnerships, as well as to garner support for initiatives among a variety of government agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, business leaders, policymakers and the public to shape good health and strong policies to promote health for everyone.
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“The Somerset County Department of Health continually works with our public health partners to improve health behaviors among residents through education and outreach on community health initiatives,” said Freeholder Patricia L. Walsh, liaison to Healthier Somerset, a coalition formed to improve the health and wellness of everyone who lives and works in Somerset County. “The ranking reflects the collaborative efforts taken by our staff and through interactions with these groups to prioritize personal and community health.”
To address community health issues, the Somerset County Department of Health is an active partner in Healthier Somerset and Healthier Middlesex, to focus on engaging county residents and stakeholders in good health habits and promoting policy changes to improve the health and well-being of all in the community.
While no ranking model can perfectly describe the health of a population, the county health ranking can be used to demonstrate differences in health by place, raise awareness of the many factors that influence health, and stimulate further community-health-improvement efforts. In ranking the health of nearly every county in the nation, the results illustrate what we know when it comes to what is making people sick or healthy. The road maps show what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.
The Somerset County Department of Health attributes health-status achievements to ongoing community initiatives, such as with Healthier Somerset and Healthier Middlesex, and several long-standing public health collaborations with organizations, such as the Greater Somerset Public Health Partnership and three area hospitals: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital - Somerset and New Brunswick campuses - and Saint Peter’s University Hospital.
Additional regional collaborations with Morris and Middlesex counties have resulted in efforts to establish ordinances that promote community health, such as smoke-free parks and Complete Streets that enable access for all users.
Somerset County has promoted programs to expand walking and biking trails, increase open space and increase utilization of alternative energy and green design. These initiatives address key issues in the 2015 Somerset County Community Health Improvement Plan and the 2016 Middlesex/Somerset Counties Community Health Improvement Plan, which identified health concerns in Somerset County.
Residents are encouraged to look at these local sources of data to understand more about the health of their community. The Somerset Community Health Improvement Plan and the Middlesex/Somerset Community Health Improvement Plan can be viewed at http://bit.ly/HDReports.
To view the “County Health Rankings” report, visit www.CountyHealthRankings.org