San Juan County state's 'healthiest' for second year in a row

Local health officials are taking San Juan County's latest distinction with a grain of salt, but the numbers aren't anything to sneeze at.

For the second year in a row, San Juan ranks as the healthiest of Washington state's 39 counties, according to results of a national study.

“San Juan County residents as a whole are very health conscious, and have consistently supported effective public health programs from flu clinics to nutrition programs for children and seniors," county Health and Community Services Director John Manning said. "But we have to acknowledge that the statistics are also affected by the number of people with chronic illnesses who move out of the County to be closer to treatment facilities.”

The study, conducted by the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood John Foundation, found county residents are 16 percent less likely to die prematurely, 25 percent to describe themselves as being in poor health, and are also less likely to smoke, contract a sexually transmitted disease or be a victim of violent crimes.

The study also ranked San Juan second among the state's 39 counties in social and economic factors.

San Juan ranked below the state average is several health categories, however: percentage of children living in poverty, 20 percent compared to 18 percent statewide, excessive drinking, 21 percent vs. 17 percent, adults without health insurance, 19 percent vs. 18 percent, and people unable to see a doctor due to cost, 14 percent vs 13 percent.

This year is the second consecutive that San Juan ranked as the state's healthiest county, according to the study. Ferry County, located in the northeast corner of the state, ranked lowest in overall health ratings and King County, the state's most populous, slipped this year from fifth to sixth place.



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