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Of the 102 counties in the Prairie State, Woodford ranks fourth in terms of a respected, annual measure of health, representatives of the county health departments view the report as a tool for improvement.

"Although Woodford County Health Department does utilize County Health Rankings ... from year to year, the rankings are not the only measurement we look at to capture a picture of the overall health of our communities," said Andrea Ingwersen, Woodford's health educator and public information officer.

The annual nationwide County Health Rankings are derived by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Population Health Institute.

Following Woodford were Piatt (eighth), Tazewell (18th) and McLean (22nd). The complete report can be viewed at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

The rankings are a measure of how counties are doing on more than 30 factors, including rates of premature death, percentage of people who identify themselves as being in poor physical and mental health, percentage of low birth weight babies, smoking and obesity rates, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, access to health care and unemployment and education levels.

Health departments use the data in their planning, along with other tools, including their counties' Community Health Needs Assessments.

Woodford fared better than state averages in several areas, including flu vaccination rates and education. But, they fared worse in physical activity, percentage of residents who drive alone to work and access to doctors, dentists and mental health providers.

McLean fared better than state averages in mammography screening, flu vaccination rates and education, but worse than state averages in adult obesity, access to healthy foods, infant mortality, excessive drinking, alcohol-impaired driving deaths and access to doctors and dentists.

"Adult obesity continues to be an issue in McLean County ... and we will continue to focus on that," said Camille Rodriguez, McLean County Health Department administrator. "Our rates of infant mortality are concerning to me. We are looking to examine what we can do to assist in addressing that issue."

Logan checked in at No. 66, as they fared worse than state averages in alcohol-impaired driving and drug overdose deaths and access to health care providers, but better than state averages in mammography screening.

"Change takes time," said Don Cavi, administrator of the Logan County Department of Public Health. "We are working hard as a community to improve health outcomes, which means changing health behaviors. Hopefully, the projects we are implementing today and our Community Health Improvement Plan will be instrumental in bettering our long-term outlook."

Macon was 85th, up three spots from 2018. The county fared worse than the state average in low birth-weight babies, alcohol-impaired driving deaths, sexually transmitted infections and children in single-parent households, but fared better than state average in access to primary care doctors.

"It's hard to move the needle quickly when we're talking about health outcomes," said Marisa Hosier, Macon’s health department's director of health promotion and public relations. "As we continue to work on these things, I hope we continue to see improvement."

Livingston ranked 62nd, as they fared worse than state averages in obesity, physical activity and access to doctors and dentists, but better in flu vaccination.

"We are an aging population and we're a very rural county," said Livingston’s health education and marketing director Erin Fogarty. "That affects one's ability to be physically active, especially during the extremely cold days of winter." We are discussing what we can do for our aging population.”

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