CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The annual county health rankings report released Wednesday shed light on health issues that have improved here in the state of Virginia and where work still needs to be done.
“There’s definitely notable improvements,” said Dr. Leslie Hoglund, Population Health Analytics Manager for the Virginia Department of Health. “Out of the 30 factors that the county rankings analyze, we were either at the national benchmark or better.”
Locally, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover rank within the top 50, while Petersburg and Emporia are ranked dead last. Richmond is only slightly higher, raking 114 out of 134.
Dr. Tania Ackers-White of the Lifestyle and Wellness Center says she’s not surprised by the findings.
“I feel like overall people would like to be healthy, but maybe don’t have proper information about diet and nutrition,” says Dr. Ackers-White.
Health factors such as smoking, adult obesity and physical inactivity are stats that drive some rankings down, but overall, Virginia is doing well.
“We’ve shown improvements among diabetic monitoring, high school graduation rates, the percentage of those who have gone and attained some college level of experience, preventable hospital stays,” Dr. Hoglund said.
And in Richmond, there have been improvements in the number of HIV cases, though other sexually transmitted diseases like Gonorrhea and Chlamydia remain high. The city has also seen an uptick in Syphilis cases.
In an effort to get low-ranking counties back on track, Dr. Hogan says, “state-wide we are rallying behind Virginia’s plan for well-being, which is a state-wide health improvement plan that is really sky level with the 30 measures of success that aligns really well with the county health rankings.”
The healthiest counties in the Commonwealth are Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington.