Lucas County is gradually getting healthier, according to a new study released last week.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked Lucas County the 66th healthiest county in Ohio. The county was 69th out of 88 last year, and 73rd in 2016.
The report looks at health indicators including premature death, smoking, inactivity, clinical-care access, and multiple socioeconomic factors. Rankings are based on a conceptual model that includes health outcomes and health factors.
Toledo-Lucas County Health Department spokesman Shannon Lands said the county is making strides in a number of areas.
“It looks like we’re improving what we’re doing in the community,” Ms. Lands said. “More so as a collaborative effort between public health, the hospital systems, and so on. I feel like we’re moving the needle. It may just be minute, but it’s going in the right direction.”
Lucas County ranks 29th in clinical care, the highest ranking the county scored in the eight evaluation areas. Just 8 percent of county residents are uninsured, on par with the state number.
The study shows there is one primary care physician for every 1,100 people, better than the state average ratio of one for every 1,310. Ms. Lands said residents have many choices when it comes to receiving care.
“Fortunately in Toledo, we have a good pool of providers and health care professionals that can care for people,” she said. “There is an option for people to turn to when they’re in need, whether it’s a preventative measure, an injury, or something else.”
The county’s overall ranking is dragged down by low economic and social scores, where Lucas ranks 85th. Sixty percent of adults have a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent statewide.
Lucas County’s numbers in unemployment (5.1 percent), children in poverty (28 percent), and violent crime (794 reported offenses per 100,000) are also worse than the state averages — 4.9 percent unemployment, 20 percent of children in poverty, and 290 offenses per 100,000.
For income inequality. the county scored a 5.5, meaning the top 20 percent of household income in the county was 5.5 times higher than the lowest 20 percent of household income in the county. Ohio overall scored a 4.8.
“It doesn’t surprise me this area of the report is suffering because we have identified those issues,” Ms. Lands said. “I can tie it directly back to the social determinants of health, which are people being employed, having education, living in a safe neighborhood, things along those lines.”
Wood County checked in at No. 17 in the overall rankings. Wood County Health District spokesman Alex Aspacher said the report helps understand specific areas influencing people’s health.
“We use this information, along with our own community health assessment, to identify the county’s greatest health needs and help define where we should be focusing our efforts,” Mr. Aspacher said. “While we are pleased to be ranked near the top, our vision is to become the healthiest county in Ohio.”
Fulton (21), Henry (8), Ottawa (27), and Sandusky (48) counties also fared well in the overall rankings.
— With assistance by Jay Skebba