A survey done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute shows that Muskingum County ranks very low when it comes to being a healthy county.
Out of Ohio’s 88 counties, Muskingum County ranks 74 in the Health Outcomes category for 2014, down from 73 in 2013. Jody Stones a Community Health Planner at the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department explained there are two main factors when ranking a county in the health outcomes category; premature death and quality of life.
"Things like the number of days you had bad physical days, the number of days you felt were bad mental health days, and so it’s a combination of those two scores," said Stones. "Low birth rate is one that I think was a little worse so it brought us down like one point."
In the Health Factors category, Muskingum County improved from ranking 59 in 2013 to 57 in 2014. That category factors in health behaviors including tobacco use, diet and exercise, access to clinical care, and socioeconomics.
"When you have that much stress in your home, then that’s going to affect your health behaviors. And so all of those, that’s why in the rankings, the socioeconomic ranking counts for more and so in all the Appalachian counties you’re going to see that that pulls those scores down some because we’re all kind of in the same socioeconomic boat."
While the rankings look grim for Muskingum County, Stones notes the positive changes; the number of people smoking has decreased, along with alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, and violent crimes. Stones also says the Muskingum County Community Health Improvement Plan was created to address these problems and improve them over time. Geauga County in Northeast Ohio is ranked as Ohio’s healthiest county while Scioto County in Southern Ohio was at the bottom of the list.