The 2012 County Health Rankings were released April 2 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.


The 2012 County Health Rankings were released April 2 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Brown County ranked 17th in health outcomes and 27th in health favors, according to the report.

The annual County Health Rankings, which was launched nationwide in 2010, uses a standard formula to measure the health of more than 3,000 counties across the United States.

The rankings are designed to compare the health of counties within each state.

The report ranks both health outcomes and health factors in order to highlight a wide array of issues that determine health in local communities.

Health outcomes include the rate of people dying before age 75, the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health and the rate of low-birth weight infants.

Health factors include health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

According to Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz, this report is one of many tools that her department uses to help identify issues in public health and identify action plans for those issues that are identified.

“I believe that our current public health, health care and community efforts influence the areas where we have favorable rankings, and we have implemented programs that should help improve areas over time that we do not rank as favorably in,” she said.
She explained that a “shining star” is Brown County’s percent of low birthweight babies.

“The providers in Brown County provide prenatal care to women who are pregnant in the clinic, in addition to Brown County Public Health offering home visits to families during pregnancy to provide additional support and guidance to reach the goal of a healthy birth,”? Moritz said.

She went on to say that the Clinical Care and Physical Environment section historically ranks high for Brown County.

“Things that I?believe influence the Clinical Care section are the fact that we have three quality health care clinics that strive to provide good health care and deliver best practice care that includes diabetic and mammography screening,”?Moritz added.

Areas in need of improvement, according to Moritz, are the Health Behaviors category where Brown County has traditionally ranked lower in the state.

According to the report, the obesity rate in Brown County is higher than the state average.

Moritz said there are programs currently in place working on that issue with the Heart of New Ulm and the Springfield Childhood Wellness Task Force.

“The interventions that we are implementing in these programs are making improvements, but it takes time to see a significant change in the data,” Moritz explained. “We hope to see that number go down in the coming years.”?

The report also shows that Brown County needs to work on improving healthy behaviors of Brown County residents.

Health Behaviors is a category of measurement that shows tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use and sexual activity.

Brown County shows a favorable lower teen birth rate as compared to the state measurement. Moritz said Brown County Public Health attempts to influence this rate by doing health education with teens and families and providing a grant funded low cost Family Planning Program for those individuals who do not have access to family planning through insurance.

A detailed County Health rankings report for all of Minnesota can be viewed at