For Hometown News
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- For the fourth year, the health of the residents of St. Lucie County has been evaluated by an independent source, and this year the county ranked 22nd in the state for its quality of overall health. St. Johns County ranked first. Last year, the county had ranked 30th place overall.
"As we track our progress, we are reminded that there is no finish line in our efforts for better health across all the counties," said Dr. John Armstrong, surgeon general and secretary of health for the state.
The report looked at outcomes that occurred over the year, such as premature death, low birthweight and what percentage of people were currently in poor mental or physical health.
"One of the most important lessons from this report is that many socio-economic factors also influence a community's health," said Tod Mowery, chair for the St. Lucie County Commission. "Our county's work to create good jobs for our residents and provide quality education will also support improving health."
The report also included health factors such as number of smokers, adult obesity and physical inactivity.
According to the report, St. Lucie county's mortality rates have declines by nearly 14 percent since the report was first released in 2010. The county also showed significant improvement in health behaviors such as reducing smoking, sexually transmitted infections and teen birth rates. One major challenge for the county is the unemployment rate, where St. Lucie County ranked 64th out of 67 counties.
"We are pleased to see continued progress as a result of our community's hard work," said Larry lee, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County.
The data was compiled by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Florida Department of Health uses the data to create an improvement plan used by the county's health departments as well as other state agencies and businesses.
"The Community Health Assessment process gives each of Florida's counties the opportunity to address important health improvement," said Dean Donna Petersen, with the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida.
"Our vision is clear: Florida will be the healthiest state in the nation," said Dr. Armstrong.
Neighboring Martin County ranked second, while Indian River County came in at 15th. The full report can be found online at www.countyhealthrankings.org.