Rowan County drops in 2022 county health rankings

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, June 29, 2022

SALISBURY — Rowan County fell in the 2022 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report recently released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, according to a news release from Healthy Rowan.

The institute releases the report annual for every county in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ranking, which is a process funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, helps health care leaders to understand what influences how long and how well people live.

The ranking’s data includes a variety of measures, such as one’s lifestyle, the level of education, the quality of healthcare, employment, community safety and the percent of children living in poverty, all of which impact the future health of every community. The process uses the same “measuring stick” for all counties which allows for the identification of what is working well in Rowan and where the county can improve opportunities for good health.

This annual process looks at the overall broad vision of health by first looking at the policies and programs at the local, state and federal levels. These policies can play an important role in shaping the health factors of a county; and that in turn, can influence a community’s health outcomes. Health factors represent things that can improve the length and the quality of one’s life. They are predictors of how healthy our communities can be in the future. The four health factor areas of this model include health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Health outcomes represent how healthy a county is currently. The health outcomes reflect the physical and mental well-being of residents within a community by measuring the length and the quality of life typically experienced in that certain county.

Counties are ranked by the health factors and health outcomes, with the top-ranking county earning the rank of No. 1 and then going in descending order based on the number of counties within one’s state. Here locally, Rowan County is compared annually to the other 99 counties within the state. This year, Rowan fell in rankings and is now ranked 62nd in health factors and 61st in health outcomes. Compared to 2021, the county has moved in the wrong direction by 11 spots within the health factors category and by one spot in the category of health outcomes.

In a news release, Healthy Rowan said: “Although we have a lot to work on as we continue in creating a healthier county to live in, one has to realize the impact COVID-19 has had on our county in the past year. Not only did we lose many precious lives due to COVID-19, it touched almost every aspect of our lives, both physically and mentally. On a more positive note, however, we did see positive changes in this year’s rankings in the following categories:

• A decrease in the number of people claiming to have poor physical health days

• A decrease in the percentage of adults being obese

• Less alcohol-impaired driving deaths

• Less sexually transmitted infections

• Less teen births (although still high)

• A decreased ratio of the number of patients per primary physicians, dentists and mental health providers

• An increase in the percentage of county citizens attending college

• A decrease in the number of children living in a single-parent household

• A decrease in the number of days with a poor air quality

• A decrease in the percentage of families with severe housing problems

The news release continues: “As we continue to find a new normal in the COVID-19 endemic and work even harder to move closer to the upper half of the county health rankings, the health department, our community coalition Healthy Rowan, and our community partners are developing action plans to address the continued, top three areas of health concerns that were identified in our most recent 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment. These areas, which are identical to those identified in the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment, are mental health, substance use and lifestyle behaviors that impact health. With your help and support, programs such as Healthy Rowan, Rowan Moves, Lifestyle Medicine, the Advancing Health Equity Program, as well as the Post Overdose Response Team (PORT) can only help improve the quality of life in Rowan County and help us inch our way to obtaining a higher ranking with each passing year.”

In the upcoming weeks, the health department and Healthy Rowan will be facilitating three action planning meetings where they will examine current health condition, root causes, determine measures, specific actions and activities that could be implemented to address each of the three priorities and what measurements would indicate progress. The proposed action plans generated from these meetings will be made available on both the Health Department’s-Community Health page, as well as on the Healthy Rowan website upon completion.

For more information on Rowan County’s 2022 County Health Rankings, visit this link

An overview of the state’s health rankings, as well as surrounding counties, can be found at In addition to that, visit or more information on the many programs, initiatives, and health services that Rowan County Public Health has to offer.