For the past decade, the County Health Rankings have taken the pulse of the nation, showing us how where we live matters to our health. Tillamook County Public Health is pleased to report that our county has seen an intriguing trend, moving from an overall ranking of 26th, out of a total of 34 Oregon counties included in 2016, to an impressive 10th place ranking out of 35 Oregon counties included in 2020. According to Marlene Putman, Public Health Administrator, “Health indicator data is just one measure we use to drive investments to improve community health and well-being. This trend shows that the hard work and collaboration of our community partners is moving us in a positive direction.”
This report compares the health of counties within states. We know that not everyone has the same opportunities to be healthy where they live. Good health allows people to fulfill their potential and thrive. Looking at these measures can help a community better understand what systems are supporting health and well-being and where there might be room for improvement.
The Health Rankings make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care such as access to physical activity and healthy foods, factors that Tillamook County partners can do something about. All counties can take action to improve their health, no matter where they rank. It’s not a race to the top. It is about making steady progress toward building communities where people feel connected and supported to live healthier lives.
The Health Rankings report is well worth celebrating. There are many incredible actions taken by leaders and organizations in Tillamook County in the past five years that contributed to this positive trend, and we congratulate all our community members for this success. It is also worth noting that the “Year of Wellness” was launched in 2016 and continues to build momentum as Tillamook County Wellness into 2020 and beyond. More than 46 community partner organizations, and nearly 100 individuals, have made a commitment to work collectively to reduce risk for type 2 diabetes. This collective action is changing our community and it is changing people’s lives for the better.
County Commissioner Bill Baertlein has been instrumental in many of these efforts, demonstrating true leadership. When asked about the County Health Rankings report, Commissioner Baertlein said, “I’m really pleased with everything that has happened. It has really exceeded all my expectations and I think this report will add fuel to existing efforts. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
Areas where we continue to improve include people’s perceptions of their personal health and well-being, smoking rates have gone down, and we have a lot of access to places to be physically active, especially outdoors. Health issues needing improvement include obesity rates and sedentary behavior, as well as people not getting enough sleep. All these factors influence risk for chronic disease. Other areas we hope to see improvements include flu vaccination rates, number of children in poverty, college attainment, teen birth rates, and premature deaths, including those that are drug or alcohol related, as well as suicides. As positive as our trajectory is, there is still a lot of work to do to support individual and community health.
The expression, “It takes a village,” is true. We improve these areas together as a community. And the inverse is true too. We are always moving in a direction. Collectively, we decide what that looks like and how we can invest our energy and resources to make things better. It takes everyone working toward a common goal, supporting one another and making a commitment to do things in a new way. Together, we are Making Healthy Happen.
For more local health and wellness information, follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.