Eau Claire (WQOW) — New numbers show Eau Claire has gotten a little healthier, but still has issues to tackle. The county ranked 33rd out of Wisconsin’s 72 for overall physical and mental health of its residents.
While Eau Claire County has jumped a couple spots since 2018, officials from the health department told News 18, any time a health ranking is released, they see room for improvement.
“Ranking 33rd means we’re about in the middle of the pack, and we certainly know we can improve,” said Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director, Lieske Giese. “Really, we look at the numbers that are underneath that to say, where do we need to go?”
Included in the 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Eau Claire County had several strengths, like low teen birth rates, and a high ratio of primary care providers.
“It’s a reminder, when we’re 33rd, or first, or 72nd, that it makes a difference what we do as a community. It makes a difference what we do individually as well,” Giese said.
However, areas for improvement included premature deaths, possibly caused by drug and alcohol addictions.
“There are all kinds of factors that go into people using and misusing those substances,” mentioned Giese. “Making sure people understand the consequences and educate themselves about it is important, but doing things at a community level, where we make it less of a possibility that people get into trouble with using those substances.”
When it came to preventable hospital stays, Eau Claire County ranked as one of the worst in the state.
“We should be able to support people that have chronic conditions earlier, before they get to the hospital, and we don’t seem to be doing that in quite the way that we should,” Giese added.
With community-wide education and resources, Giese believes overall health in Eau Claire County could improve greatly.
“One of the things that we learn from county health rankings, and that we’re reminded of, is that health is not just because you go to the doctor, and I think it’s an important opportunity to look at all of those things that go into health,” Giese said.
For more information on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, click here.