This blog originally appeared on the County Health Ranking’s County-by-County blog.
Recently, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) staff had the opportunity to discuss health and the CHR&R program with newly elected National Association of Counties (NACo) president Linda Langston, Supervisor of Linn County, Iowa. Langston sees her role, in part, as an opportunity to educate people about the Rankings and their practical application for county decision makers.
County Supervisor Langston and her region have had very positive outcomes using the County Health Rankings. When an agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa began investigating areas in the community where the well-being and security of children were threatened, community leaders all zeroed in on one area of town. The Rankings data on social and economic factors validated leaders’ claims and stakeholders were able to tailor revitalization program to that community. Two and a half years later, the area has seen significant reduction in crime, an increase in home ownership, and other signs of improvement.
In addition to championing the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, Langston believes that communities need to come together to mitigate the “man-made disasters” that affect health. Addressing challenges like diabetes, obesity, and chronic diseases require county officials to be collaborative leaders. She advises leaders to be open to solving these problems in different and innovative ways, which often requires bringing multiple stakeholders and perspectives to the table. Langston also stressed the importance of the Rankings data in collaborative problem solving. She believes that, because so many health concerns are interconnected, the Rankings help stakeholders understand the larger context of problems.