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County tops for health in state

By April 4, 2014 No Comments

Posted April 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Nodaway News Leader

Nodaway County was ranked first among all 115 Missouri counties as being the healthiest.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a world-renown health organization, was the agency who ranked the nation’s counties across several categories with the results being released recently. Nodaway County placed high within several categories in comparison to the state.

For health outcomes the county saw lower diabetes instances, less HIV prevalence, lower healthcare costs, fewer children eligible for free lunch and fewer babies with a low birthweight. The behaviors of Nodaway Countians were realized as positive with fewer adult smokers, better access to exercise opportunities, fewer sexually transmitted infections and fewer teens giving birth.

St. Francis Hospital and Health Services President Dr. Gray Cox was pleased with the top ranking.

“This ranking is quite gratifying. We work toward the betterment of the community and people individually,” said Cox.

One of the statistics that brought a broad grin to Cox’s face was the unavailability of physicians with Nodaway County scoring nine percent and the state average was 14 percent.

“The future of healthcare is being able to keep people well and healthy,” said Cox.

The county enjoys these social and economic factors: greater high school graduation rate, lower unemployment, fewer children in poverty, less children living in poverty, less violent crime and fewer injuries resulting in death. The physical environment of Nodaway County allowed for a higher ranking with less air pollution and better drinking water.

“There are two reasons that most business choose to locate in a community,” said Josh McKim, Nodaway County Economic Development executive director, “transportation avenues and workforce quality.”

McKim sees the county’s top ranking being utilized in not only business and industry recruitment, but also in talent recruiting. He plans on using the information directly in printed messages and also verbally when he’s communicating with decision makers.

“I will forward the link to executives that need to realize what a great place this area is to live,” said McKim. “Quality of life is an issue that holds much value.”

The county health rankings are published online at The rankings are meant to help counties’ leaders understand what influences the health of the residents. Many times, the rankings are used to gain support for local health improvement initiatives.