From AP - News Headlines -

Health Rankings Not Kind to Vermilion County, Places Champaign County in Top Third

A national ranking of counties based on the health of their residents puts Vermilion County near the bottom in Illinois.

Champaign County ranked 31st, Vermilion 96th in the survey put out by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The authors wanted to put public health in a new light to motivate people to discuss those issues in their communities.

Champaign Urbana Public Health Department administrator Julie Pryde thinks the study will do that, though counties already have a regular four-year process to assess health issues and act on them.

"In Illinois we do something called the I-Plan, which is a local assessment of need, and we're getting ready to do that again," Pryde said. "So I think (the report is) very timely and it will be more data and more information that will help stimulate discussion when we get in these groups."

The study used factors ranging from access to medical care and healthy food to smoking and obesity rates. Vermilion County health administrator Steve Laker says some of his county's low rankings are in areas that use patient interviews rather than raw numbers.

"Self-assessment, self-reported data is always a little suspect," Laker said. "But what they're saying here is true. If they're using the same data everywhere and it's just as suspect everywhere, then it may be relative."

Laker says Vermilion County's blue-collar history has a lot to do with its low public-health ranking. He says community stakeholders are already meeting this afternoon (Wed) to talk about the survey.