Get Healthy Carson City: County health rankings

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

This month, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released its seventh annual County Health Rankings report. According to RWJF, the rankings are based on a model of population health that emphasizes the many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play.

The report breaks down its assessment into two categories: Health Outcomes and Health Factors. Health outcomes measure both how long people live and how healthy people feel. Health factors measure health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic influences, and the physical environment. Carson City’s overall rank among the 17 Nevada counties was 12th for health outcomes and 11th for health factors.

Last week, Carson City Health and Human Services and Washoe County Health District met jointly to discuss the rankings and present to community stakeholders how community-level data, like that contained in the County Health Rankings, has been used to develop community-wide strategies to improve health in their respective counties.

Carson City Health and Human Services has already begun to consider how the current rankings will be used to shape decisions in our city.

“The County Health Rankings will be included in Carson City’s second round of community health assessment processes that are beginning this spring,” said Valerie Cauhape, a public health educator who also works on Carson City Health and Human Services’ accreditation efforts. “The next community health improvement plan will also take the contributing factors into consideration when developing strategies to address the community’s health needs.”

The county health rankings looked at numerous factors that play a role in shaping the health of the community, including smoking, obesity, access to healthy food, alcohol use, and physical activity.

“It is important that representatives from all aspects of the public health system, including government, education institutions, non-profit organizations, and private businesses, come together to address disparities in health,” Cauhape pointed out.

While Carson City’s place in the rankings was not as high as we would like, Carson City Health and Human Services continues to reach out to other groups in our community to form partnerships who help our entire community to be healthier and stronger. We know we can’t do it alone. The Health Rankings data takes into account some factors, like unemployment rates, childhood poverty, and high school graduation rates, which are outside the purview of the Health Department, but still have an important impact on well-being of our citizens. By joining together as a community, we can help improve our ranking and make Carson City a better place to live and work.

To view the entire County Health Rankings report, visit To learn how you or your organization can be involved in the upcoming Carson City Community Health Assessment, please contact Valerie Cauhape at 775-283-7900. For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at, or visit us at


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