NEWTON — When addressing the overall health of a community, that is often viewed in terms of the big picture — meaning physical, economical and mental health are all factored into its standing.
"Those are things that we look at (with) the Healthy Harvey coalition to sort of, holistically, make sure we're healthy in every way. That's why our mission is working to improve the health, success and safety of all people," said Healthy Harvey coordinator Lorrie Kessler.
Based on the rankings of the healthiest places in the U.S. recently released by smartasset.com, Harvey County is in a pretty good position — rating as one of the top 10 healthiest counties in Kansas based on three main categories: length of life, healthy behaviors and health care access.
Smartasset.com calculated the length of life index by looking at the premature death rate of a county. The rankings also tabulated the percentage of adults who are smokers, obese or report excessive drinking to create a health behaviors index, while the rate of primary care physicians per 100,000 residents and the uninsured rate (percentage of the population under 65 without health insurance) were used to create the health care access index.
All three indices were then used to create a weighted average that found Harvey County to be the ninth healthiest county in Kansas. Nearby McPherson (11th) and Butler (29th) counties also ranked highly, while each fell in the top 10 of one of those categories.
Harvey (fifth) and McPherson (fourth) both ranked in the top 10 of healthy behaviors, with McPherson County featuring the second lowest rate of adult smokers and Harvey County showing the lowest rate of excessive drinking, according to the study. Staff noted intentional efforts, as well as the overall philosophy of the community, played a role in that.
"Something that we do here throughout our various programs includes screening people for tobacco use, so we kind of have a plethora of resources that we try to get out into the community as far as helping people quit," said McPherson County Health Department director Shalei Shea.
Meanwhile, Butler County — the largest county in Kansas in terms of square miles — ranked in the top 10 in terms of health care access.
"I would say that is in large part because of having two local hospitals in our county," said Butler County Health Department administrator Jamie Downs."The one here in El Dorado is really good about bringing specialists into this area so that we don't have to travel out of county to see specialists, so a lot of services are available in the community."