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Study Ranks MN Counties For Health

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NEW ULM, Minn. -

A study put together by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin seeks to rank the health of every county in the country. 
Steele County placed first in Minnesota in health outcomes, a combination of morbidity and mortality for the counties.

Meanwhile, Nicollet County placed 4th in health factors, which looked at behaviors, clinical care and social and economic factors.

But local health experts say there is actually little difference between the counties, though there is a big difference between other states.
Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz says, "Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the nation to begin with. When you look at Minnesota, a lot of the counties that are even on the low-end would probably be healthier than counties elsewhere in the nation."

But there are some differences that separate the counties, and stats like smoking and teen pregnancy do play a role.

Brown County's score was helped by solid prenatal initiatives.

Moritz says, "We do have three very good clinics in Brown County that provide prenatal care. And Public Health provides a family home visiting program for women who are pregnant who need some support, especially if they have a high-risk pregnancy, so we can try to affect those birth outcomes."

While celebrating high scores plays a role, perhaps the biggest factor behind the rankings is to get counties to do better.

Moritz says, "The important thing I look at with these rankings is the measurements. Where do we do a good job. Where is the health of Brown County residents and where is it not so good."