Hood River is ‘second-healthiest county in Oregon’

April 6, 2011

In addition to the many honors Hood River has received through national and regional magazines touting the county as a desirable place to live and play, Hood River can now add a new feather to its already beloved cap.

Hood River County ranks second out of 33 researched counties in Oregon for overall health of its residents, according to a new national report.

Benton County for the second year in a row has come in first, according to County Health Rankings, a comprehensive report released March 30 that ranks each county in every state.

Across a multitude of specific indicators, Hood River County was consistently in the top counties, earning rankings between first and seventh. The cumulative ratings placed us second overall.

Not surprisingly, Hood River ranked as the number one county in the state in the healthy physical environment category - which includes access to good food and recreational facilities, and low air pollution rates.

The 2011 report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the second annual nationwide "health checkup" ranking.

Using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live, this report is the most comprehensive of its kind to rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

According to this year's rankings, the 10 healthiest counties in Oregon, starting with most healthy, are Benton, Hood River, Washington, Clackamas, Wallowa, Grant, Deschutes, Polk, Wasco, Marion.

"The rankings help counties see what they are doing well, where they need to improve and what steps they can take as a community to improve overall health. This information can help communities prevent disease and illness and have better health outcomes," said Katrina Hedberg, M.D., M.P.H., state epidemiologist, Oregon Public Health Division.

Two umbrella categories used in the study clustered together data collected under both health outcomes - often referred to as mortality and morbidity (i.e., results) - and health factors (contributing issues).

Health outcome rankings examined data on premature death rates; birth weights of newborns and resident self-reports of overall health status plus specific reports on the quality of their physical or mental health.

Health factor rankings compared four behavioral or environmental quality of life measures within each county including: physical environment; health behaviors; clinical care and social and economic environment.

Specific health factor data collected for each county in the study included: access to healthy foods, recreation access, air pollution levels, rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, adult excessive drinking, and births to teenagers; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; high school graduation rates, adults who have attended college, children living in poverty; and community safety.

The 10 counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Jefferson, Klamath, Douglas, Josephine, Baker, Linn, Lincoln, Coos, Curry and Tillamook.

Counties are ranked relative to the health of other counties in the same state and are not compared across state lines, so at this time, there is no recognition for the "healt

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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