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Florida Department of Health in Orange County Addresses County Health Rankings

March 25, 2015

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County recognizes the value in measuring health outcomes and today acknowledged the sixth annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, much of which is available from the department at http://www.floridacharts.com/.

"It is important to include health in all policies. The County Health Rankings help communities to address the many influences of health, which include economic, social, behavioral, environmental and clinical care factors. Health is everyone’s business in Orange County," said Lesli Ahonkhai, assistant director for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

These rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. The department works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Orange County. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care.

In Orange County, the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is designed to address specific opportunities for improved health that have been identified by the community. The department has partnered with many stakeholders to implement the CHIP and collaborates regularly to track progress. We are continuing to address the rates of pre-term births, decrease diabetes and heart disease rates and deaths, and improve the prevention and control of infectious diseases in Orange County. We are in the process of reassessing what our new priority areas are and the partners involved in the Healthy Orange Collaborative. This data is very timely since we have been holding meetings to update our CHIP.

"Improving community health is the responsibility of all in Orange County, not just the health department, hospitals and physician clinics. The County Health Rankings illustrate how the length and quality of life relies on individual health behaviors; social and economic factors including employment and education; housing, air and water quality that comprise the physical environment; and of course clinical care," said Ken Peach, executive director of the Health Council of East Central Florida.

"Orlando Health always appreciates opportunities to work with community partners like the Department of Health.  Orange County, that share our commitment in improving the health and quality of life in Central Florida. We have a long standing working relationship with the DOH and are proud of the progress our organizations have achieved together. For instance, just with our organizations aligning our needs assessments, we will have a truer picture of Orange County's health needs. As a result, our organizations alongside the community will be in a better position to have a greater impact on health and wellness in Orange County," said Lainie Fox Ackerman JD, director Community Benefit of Orlando Health.