LEWISTON — When it comes to health, Franklin County is doing a little better than last year. Oxford County is doing a little worse.

And Androscoggin County hasn’t moved at all. 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released their annual County Health Rankings report Wednesday, looking at health factors and outcomes for every county in the country. 

In Maine, Sagadahoc County ranked first for overall health outcomes for the second year. Washington County slipped from 10th place to 16th, coming in last for all Maine counties. 

Locally, Oxford County fell from seventh place to 10th. Franklin County rose from ninth place to seventh. Androscoggin stayed at 13th place for the second year.

Jim Douglas, partnership director for Healthy Oxford Hills, which deals with public health for the Oxford area, said he couldn’t comment on the full report because he hadn’t yet seen it, but he was disappointed to learn that Oxford County had ranked lower this year.  

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“I can’t say a lot about it except it’s always good to be moving in the other direction,” he said.

He pointed out that certain factors weigh more heavily in the ranking than others. 

“If those just happen to spike in a given year, it can really significantly swing those numbers,” he said.

Jan O’Neill, research associate for the University of Wisconsin, said Oxford and Franklin counties likely saw their rankings change due to one factor: premature death.

Half of the health outcome ranking is based on premature death, which looks at the years of life lost for anyone who died before age 75. The early deaths could be due to anything, including accident or illness. The report uses a three-year average.

Oxford County’s premature deaths were up, from 6,384 to 6,800. Franklin County’s premature deaths were down, from 6,661 to 6,400. 

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O’Neill said the other half of the ranking looks at quality of life, including the percentage of babies with low birth weights and percentage of adults reporting poor or fair health. Those rates changed little for both Oxford and Franklin counties.

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Where does your county rank for 2016 health outcomes?

1. Sagadahoc

2. Cumberland

3. Knox

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4. York

5. Lincoln

6. Hancock

7. Franklin

8. Waldo

9. Kennebec

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10. Oxford

11. Piscataquis

12. Penobscot

13. Androscoggin

14. Somerset

15. Aroostook

16. Washington

Source: County Health Rankings by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.


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