The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute have released the annual County Health Rankings for 2022. The rankings are the result of evaluating the overall health within communities across the nation based on factors that influence both quality and length of life.
More than 30 different measures go into the evaluation of each county. Some of those measures look at health outcomes, but most are factors that influence communitywide health, such as access to clinical care, safe physical environments and social and economic conditions.
The 2022 rankings also include new measures relative to closing health disparities, such as living wages and access to childcare centers.
The results provide an annual snapshot of community health across Central Alabama and indicate progress toward achieving the Bold Goals Coalition’s goal of having all six counties in our region ranked among the top 10 in the state by 2025.
Out of 68 counties in Alabama, our region’s Shelby County remained #1 as the healthiest in the entire state for the 11th year in a row. Improving their standings from last year were #11 St. Clair County, #15 Blount County, #19 Jefferson County and #58 Walker County. Chilton County, the newest addition to the Central Alabama footprint, now ranks #22 in health outcomes across the state.
The Bold Goals Coalition is actively working to address many of the factors that influence the health of a community. Organized initiatives, such as the Health Action Partnerships in Jefferson and Walker counties, are positioned to work on issues specific to their populations.
“While we are pleased that Walker County’s health ranking is improving, we are not satisfied with the pace of our improvement,” said Paul Kennedy of the Walker Area Community Foundation, which serves as an anchor organization of the Walker County Health Action Partnership. “We have some exciting initiatives in play now and a few more for the near future. It is our hope that these efforts will accelerate the improvement of Walker County’s outcomes. The partnership is strong, and our confidence is unwavering.”
Coalition efforts within priority areas, such as student support, early education, mental health and hunger relief are designed to improve some of the metrics used in determining the health rankings. Collaborating with partners to improve children’s access to nutritional food through summer and after-school programs, for instance, can dramatically reduce the number of children and families who are considered food insecure. Organizations, such as the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, YMCA of Greater Birmingham and others, have been instrumental in expanding access to those programs.
As the rankings illustrate, community health is influenced by a variety of factors, ranging from educational success to readily available healthcare. The Bold Goals Coalition is positioned to continue providing space for organizations to come together to tackle these large-scale issues and work collaboratively to accomplish more through their collective impact.
The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.