A Call to Action in Clare County, Michigan

Clare County, Michigan, ranked last in its state in this nationwide assessment. Here's how local officials developed the tools and information to help improve the health of county citizens.

    • October 12, 2010

County Health Rankings is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. This first-of-its-kind collection of 50 reports—one per state—helps community leaders see that where we live, learn, work, and play influences how healthy we are and how long we live.

Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the program's co-director, played a significant role in designing the County Health Rankings model. He notes that health outcomes are often affected more by individual behaviors, the physical environment, and social and economic factors, than by what is typically expected to have the most impact—factors like quality of clinical care and access to care.

Intended as a "call to action" for state and local health departments, the County Health Rankings have already galvanized communities to take positive action in spots all over the country. When Clare County, Michigan, ranked last in its state, Central Michigan District Health Officer Mary Kushion immediately convened a summit to engage leaders, officials, and community-members in a discussion of the rankings. Clare may be a rural, economically-depressed county, but it now has the tools and information to form an action plan and get policy-makers and stakeholders on board to improve the health of its citizens.