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Union is Pennsylvania's Healthiest County

October 05, 2015

Scores Top Honors in National Study

Snyder: 6th, Montour: 28th, and Northumberland: 47th

By Evamarie Socha, The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — Lookin’ good, Union County. Of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, it’s the healthiest, according to a national study released Tuesday.

Snyder County is no slouch, either, coming in at No. 6 on the County Health Rankings Study of more than 3,000 counties or county equivalents nationwide. Montour County holds the No. 28 spot, and Northumberland County came in at No. 47.

Is it all that fresh air and good country living that puts this rural county at the top? It could be.

“Our analysis shows that where you live really matters to health,” said Angela Russell, an associate researcher at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in Madison, which along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiled the third county-by-county analysis of public health.

Among what Union County has going for it: a much-lower premature death rate than the state average, much less violent crime, way fewer teen pregnancies, fewer sexually transmitted infections and much higher screenings for diabetes and breast cancer.

Officials at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg were excited about the news. Michael O’Keefe, president and chief executive officer for Evangelical, said Wednesday that the hospital is proud to be a primary health care provider for Union County and the Valley.

Physical health and healthy behavior are not the only considerations in the rankings. Also counted are mortality and morbidity, access to clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

These can include the rate of people dying before age 75, high school graduation rates, access to healthier foods, air pollution levels, income and rates of smoking, obesity and teen births, even the number of fast-food restaurants in a county.
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