Frederick County Ranks High As A Healthy County

But some improvement is needed.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Frederick County is one of the healthiest counties in Maryland. According to The Rankings published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Frederick County comes in as number three in the area of health outcomes. Montgomery and Howard Counties are numbers one and two respectively.

“We have pretty good life expectancy in most parts of the county , as well as our quality of life,” says Rissah Watkins with the Frederick County Health Department. :”And then other health factors such as our healthy behaviors and the amount of critical care that we have. Various things like that all add to making this a pretty healthy community for all of us.”

Other factors which contribute to a healthy county include access to exercise opportunities, low teen births, low percentage of uninsured residents, a good primary care physician-patient ratio, low preventable hospital stays and good flu vaccination rates.

But Watkins says the report lists social determinants as well  which have an indirect impact on physical health. “That includes the living wage, the child care cost burden, the amount of child care centers per population, the gender pay gap, school funding adequacy and school segregation,” she says.

Other social and economic factors which contribute to a healthy county include high rates of high school completion, some college, low rates of children in poverty an low rates of income inequality.

Some improvement, however,  is needed, according to Watkins. “This year, County Health rankings identified adult smoking an area we may have to explore,” she says. “Even though Frederick County is ranked the third lowest percent of adult smoking in all or Maryland.”

The Frederick County Health Department offers free tobacco counseling cessation services to help residents quit smoking. Call the main number at 301-600-1029 for more information.

Another area is reducing obesity. “We know obesity increases the risk for a lot of other chronic health conditions,” says Watkins. “And it is definably in our best interest to take steps to make sure we can be as healthy as possible.”

One of those chronic health conditions is diabetes. The Health Department has a Diabetes Prevention Program, Prevent T2, which is a lifestyle program to help residents reduce weight, increase exercise and develop healthy  eating habits. For more information, call 301-600-1733.

Watkins points out that a lot of this information used to calculate the healthiness of a county in Maryland comes  from early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. She says the county needs to keep this in mind when interpreting the data. “I am sure that in the next two year as we get more updated reports we will see more of the impacts from the pandemic in our community,” she says.

By Kevin McManus