Study ranks Howard Co. as healthiest jurisdiction in state

Baltimore last, according to formula of foundation, University of Wisconsin

February 17, 2010|By Larry Carson | larry.carson@baltsun.com

A national ranking of general public health in all 24 of Maryland's jurisdictions has found Howard County the healthiest in the state, while Baltimore City is last.

The study, released Wednesday, was done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, using data from 2002-2008.

A formula used different percentage weights assigned to health outcomes, which are the length and quality of people's lives in each locality. Also measured were health factors such as behavior, clinical care, social and economic circumstances and environmental factors. For example, socioeconomic status of a population was worth 40 percent of the final score, while the built and natural environment was worth 10 percent. Clinical care quality and access got 20 percent, and behaviors that affect health, like smoking, was assigned 30 percent of the health factor portion of the formula.

In the Baltimore area, Howard was first, Frederick County third, Carroll was fifth, Harford ninth, Anne Arundel 11th, Baltimore County 15th and Baltimore City was 24th.

Howard health officer Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, who formerly served as Baltimore's health officer, said that although general wealth and high educational levels helped the county in the survey, public policies like the smoking ban and efforts to provide access to health care to the uninsured also made a difference.

"We think policies followed have made a difference," he said.

The study was scheduled to be discussed further at a news conference Wednesday at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia.

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