Door County Climbs in Annual Health Rankings

Door County improved its position as one of the healthier counties in Wisconsin, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute. Door County ranked 20th in health outcomes – things such as premature death, birthweight and poor health days – and ninth for health factors such as smoking, obesity, poverty, health insurance and quality of the environment.

That marks an improvement from 34th in health outcomes and 11th for health factors. The report notes that many factors can cause small changes in rank, but large shifts can often mean significant changes in health behaviors. The County Health Rankings look at more than 30 factors – education, housing, jobs, transportation, access to medical care and more – that influence how long and how well people live.

Door County ranks high for its residents’ healthful behaviors. Relative to the rest of Wisconsin, Door County has a lower adult smoking rate (14 percent), adult obesity rate (29 percent), number of excessive drinkers (23 percent), alcohol-impaired driving, sexually transmitted infections and teen births. The county also has remarkably low violent-crime rates and high graduation rates.

But Door County does struggle with some health factors. One in four residents does not have access to exercise opportunities. The county lags in providing primary-care physicians, dentists and mental-health professionals. Only 37 percent of Medicare enrollees receive their annual flu vaccination.

One major improvement from last year’s ranking is premature death, or the years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 residents. Door County jumped from 50th in 2018 to 20th in the 2019 report.

Kewaunee County slipped a few spots in both health outcomes and health factors but remained one of the healthiest counties in the state, ranking 11th for both categories. It ranked poorly on access to clinical care such as physicians, dentists and mental-health professionals.

Kewaunee County also ranked poorly on factors related to the physical environment, with slightly worse air pollution compared to the state and a greater percentage of residents having a long commute. The report did not register any health-related drinking-water violations.

Ozaukee County ranked first in both health outcomes and health factors for the seventh year in a row. Menominee County ranked last, or 72nd, in both health outcomes and health factors.