Latest County Health Rankings put Orleans in bottom quarter of state

Posted 14 March 2018 at 7:08 pm

Genesee, however, ranks 19th healthiest county out of 62

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse, Health Educator and Public Information Officer for Orleans County Health Department

According to the ninth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Orleans County ranks 48th respectively in overall Health Outcomes out of 62 counties.

Neighboring Genesee County ranks far higher at 19th. The lower the number, the better the county is doing with its health indicators. The Rankings are available at

“The County Health Rankings help us identify factors that are important for residents to live long and healthy lives and understand how we compare to other counties in the state,” said Paul Pettit, director of the public health departments in Genesee and Orleans counties. “With this knowledge, we can take steps to improve the health of our residents.”

The Rankings are broken into to two main categories. Health Outcomes includes length of life and quality of life and Health Factors includes health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

Genesee County ranked 19th out of 62 counties for Health Outcomes and 27th in Health Factors. Orleans County ranked 48th in Health Outcomes and 56th in Health Factors.

“The County Health Rankings show us that where people live plays a key role in how long and how well they live,” Pettit said. “The Rankings allow local leaders to clearly see and prioritize the challenges they face – whether it’s rising premature death rates or the growing drug overdose epidemic – so they can bring community leaders and residents together to find solutions.”

According to the 2018 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in New York State starting with most healthy are Rockland, followed by Saratoga, Westchester, Nassau and Putnam. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy are Bronx, Sullivan, Cattaraugus, Niagara, and Chautauqua.

This year’s Rankings are looking at the differences in health by place and by race. These differences are largely the result of gaps in opportunity – education, jobs and affordable housing in our communities. These gaps overly affect people of color.

“The County Health Rankings show how Genesee and Orleans counties rank on factors that influence their overall health ranking,” Pettit said. “For example Genesee County has some strengths in making sure the percentage of population under the age of 65 have health insurance, showing 12 percent uninsured in 2014 and 6 percent in 2018 as well as decreasing the number of hospital stays for ambulatory-care sensitive conditions per 1,000 Medicare enrollees, from 84 in 2014 to 48 in the 2018 rankings. In Orleans County, strengths include going from 12 percent uninsured in 2014 to 7 percent in 2018 and 32 percent in 2014 to 0 percent alcohol-impaired driving deaths in the 2018 rankings.”

Even with the above mentioned positive trends, both counties continue to have challenge areas and are still struggling with health factors specifically with adult smoking (Genesee – 20 percent / Orleans – 22 percent), obesity (Genesee – 27 percent / Orleans – 31 percent) and local access to clinical care, providing local access to clinical care for primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers.

The Rankings have become an important tool for communities that want to improve health for all. Working collaboratively with community partners, Genesee and Orleans counties have a number of initiatives underway to expand health opportunities for residents, including providing the National Diabetes Prevention Program (Prevent T2), a lifestyle change program to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes; coordinating the tri-county Opioid Task Force; decrease smoking/nicotine usage through referrals and increase cancer screenings.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit

About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels.

The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena.  The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit

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