Riley Co. ranks number 1 in Kansas health, Shawnee Co. falls in the middle

TOPEKA (KSNT) — A Kansas county health ranking looked at a variety of factors that impact the overall health of a community.

The state’s capital county ranks in the middle, while Riley County topped the chart at number one.

Shawnee County may have two of the biggest medical centers in the area, but when it comes to the overall health of its residents it ranks in the middle of the pack statewide.

“We know we have a lot of work to do so ranking 56 out of 101 isn’t great, but it is an improvement,” said Misty Kruger, Shawnee County Health Agency’s Public Health Officer.

Teen birth rates and premature deaths have decreased in Shawnee County and that helped the county jump 10 spots, but combating other criteria like obesity, smoking and child poverty is tough.

“As a public health official we don’t necessarily have control over,” said Kruger.

A Northeast Kansas county that ranked well in their overall health rankings was Riley County, coming in at number one.

Here its youth and public health programs pushing them into the number one spot. Fort Riley and Kansas State University has a lot to do with it.

“We have a very young demographic here,” said Robert Boyd, Riley County Commissioner. One of the youngest in the state. So that haves its benefits. We don’t have some of the statistical things that plague older communities,”

Riley County moved up from number two after dealing with a significant problem.

“We have a higher infant mortality rate, access to prenatal women was not as good as it is right now,” said Brenda Nickels, Director of the Riley County Health Agency.

But help from local organizations helped turn that around, and that, says Nickels is the key. Getting the community involved.

Riley County was nominated the number one Health Agency of the Year in 2014 by the Kansas Health Institute.

You can find your Kansas county health ranking here along with its health statistics. http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/

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